The Navajo Nation released a statement on Monday that suggested that the Washington Redskins rename their team “Code Talkers” to honor the Navajo Code Talkers that helped the United States secure victory in World War II against Japan in the Pacific theater.
“We strongly encourage the NFL Washington organization to rename their team in such a way that truly honors and respects the First Americans of this country,” the Navajo Nation said in a statement. “Renaming the team ‘Code Talkers’ to honor the Navajo Code Talkers, and other tribal nations who used their sacred language to help win World War II, would set the team on a path to restoring its reputation and correcting the historical misrepresentation of Indigenous peoples.”
“On behalf of the Navajo Nation, we thank and commend all of our Indigenous brothers and sisters who dedicated themselves to a just cause and won!” the statement continued. “We stand with you as proud Indigenous peoples knowing that together we brought about change and we will continue to fight for what is right. Ahe’hee'”
The statement from the Navajo Nation followed the Washington Redskins announcing that they were dropping the name:
On July 3rd, we announced the commencement of a thorough review of the team’s name. That review has begun in earnest. As part of this process, we want to keep our sponsors, fans and community apprised of our thinking as we go forward. Today, we are announcing we will be retiring the Redskins name and logo upon completion of this review. Dan Snyder and Coach Rivera are working closely to develop a new name and design approach that will enhance the standing of our proud, tradition rich franchise and inspire our sponsors, fans and community for the next 100 years.
The push to rename the team comes as left-wing activists have destroyed statues and monuments across the country in recent weeks and have sought to change anything that they deem to be racially insensitive.
A 2016 Washington Post poll found that the overwhelming majority of Native Americans were not offended by the name and indicated they would not be offended if someone called them that name.
The Post reported:
Nine in 10 Native Americans say they are not offended by the Washington Redskins name, according to a new Washington Post poll that shows how few ordinary Indians have been persuaded by a national movement to change the football team’s moniker.
Among the Native Americans reached over a five-month period ending in April, more than 7 in 10 said they did not feel the word “Redskin” was disrespectful to Indians. An even higher number — 8 in 10 — said they would not be offended if a non-native called them that name.
The CIA gave the following summary on how the U.S. military decided on using the Navajo during World War II:
During World War II, the Marine Corps used one of the thousands of languages spoken in the world to create an unbreakable code: Navajo.
World War II wasn’t the first time a Native American language was used to create a code.
During World War I, the Choctaw language was used in the transmission of secret tactical messages. It was instrumental in a successful surprise attack against the Germans.
Germany and Japan sent students to the United States after World War I to study Native American languages and cultures, such as Cherokee, Choctaw, and Comanche.
Because of this, many members of the U.S. military services were uneasy about continuing to use Code Talkers during World War II. They were afraid the code would be easily cracked, but that was before they learned about the complexity of Navajo.