Redskins' Code Talker honor draws fire from some Diné

By Bill Donovan
Special to the Times

WINDOW ROCK, Nov. 27, 2013

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(Times photos - Donovan Quintero)

TOP: Navajo Code Talkers from left, George Willie Sr., Roy Hawthorne, Peter MacDonald, and George James Sr. stand on FedExField as they are recognized for their heroic deeds during WWII in Prince George’s County, Md.

MIDDLE: Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, second from left, poses with Lorenzo James, far left, from Blackhat, N.M. and two other fans Friday night at the Gallup Municipal Airport in Gallup.

BOTTOM: Juan Garcia from Zuni, N.M. holds his autographed Washington Redskins high up above him on Friday night at the Gallup Municipal Airport in Gallup. Redskins’ owner, Dan Snyder, met with Zuni Governor Arlen P. Quetawki Sr., but no one would say the reason for the visit.

Former Navajo Tribal Chairman Peter MacDonald, head of the Navajo Code Talkers Association, and three other Code Talkers appeared briefly on Monday Night Football on ESPN.

The four Code Talkers -- MacDonald, NCTA Vice President Roy Hawthorne and members George James Sr. and George Willie Sr. -- were honored by the Washington Redskins before the game Monday and appeared on the show for about 90 seconds wearing Redskin jackets as the audience was given a brief explanation of what the Code Talkers represented.

The showcasing of the Code Talkers came three days after Dan Snyder, owner of the Redskins, traveled on the company's plane to Gallup to visit officials of the Navajo and Zuni tribes.

Navajo officials were not available on Monday or Tuesday to talk about the visit and Zuni Gov. Arlen Quetawki Sr. said he could not comment on what was said at the meeting he had with Snyder.

Tony Wylie, a spokesman for the Washington Redskins, said the sports team was also not commenting at this time about what was said.

Much of the speculation about the visit, however, centered around criticism that the Redskins had been receiving from Indian leaders over its name with many tribal leaders saying that they felt that the team's mascot and name are offensive.

The controversy, which has been going on for several years, had heated up in recent months as various colleges and universities with names deemed offensive by tribal leaders had bowed to the pressure and changed their mascot names.

In October, President Barack Obama responded to a question on the subject by saying that if he were the owner of the Redskins, he would think about changing the team's name.

In the past, Navajo leaders have remained neutral on the subject, saying basically that there were more serous issues that needed to be addressed than the controversy over the mascot names.

A public statement was also release by Joshua Lavar Butler Tuesday afternoon regarding the Code Talker appearance ...

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