RELATED LINKS:-- LETTER: Redskins owner Dan Snyder on the creation of the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation
-- LETTER: Redskins owner Dan Snyder addresses the team's name
-- Washington Redskins Original American Foundation executive director Gary Edwards' biography
-- Washington Redskins Original American Foundation website
The Washington Redskins and owner Dan Snyder today have announced the creation of the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation to provide resources that offer genuine opportunities for Tribal communities.
According to the Washington Redskins Original American Foundation's mission, the organization strives to "work as partners to tackle the troubling realities facing so many Tribes across our country."
"The Foundation utilizes the national platform of professional sports organizations and their partners to address the challenges in the daily lives of Native Americans based on what Tribal leaders tell us they need the most," the mission states.
Since November 2013, Snyder and his staff have traveled to 26 Tribal reservations across 20 states – not only to listen, but to learn first-hand about the views, attitudes and experiences of the tribes. During those visits, Washington Redskins Original American Foundation officials met with 400 Tribal leaders.
In a personal letter sent March 24 to Redskins fans, Snyder said it became clear that members of the Native American community "need action, not words."
"The fact is, too many Native American communities face much harsher, much more alarming realities," Snyder said. "I've listened. I've learned. And frankly, it's heart wrenching. It's not enough to celebrate the values and heritage of Native Americans. We must do more."
The Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation is being led by executive director Gary Edwards, a Cherokee and retired Deputy Assistant Director of the United States Secret Service, as well as a founder and chief executive officer of the National Native American Law Enforcement Association.
"The mission is to provide awareness of the needs in Indian country throughout America, and then to bring those needs back and to share them with other professional sports organizations and partners that want to partner with Indian country to make the quality of life for Native Americans living on reservations better," Edwards said Tuesday in an interview with Larry Michael, the Voice of the Redskins. "And then once we share that information, then we partner to actually make it a reality."
The Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation has already begun to make its mark in Tribal communities. Over the winter, the organization distributed more than 3,000 cold-weather coats to several tribes across the Plains, and also gave shoes to players on both boys and girls basketball teams.
The Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation has also assisted in the purchase of a new backhoe for the Omaha Tribe in Nebraska, which will help the Tribe complete the burial process for their loved ones, even in the coldest winter months, as well as assist in water pipe repairs.
These projects are among the 40-plus endeavors already being processed by the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation.
Snyder said the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation "will serve as a living, breathing legacy – and an ongoing reminder – of the heritage and tradition that is the Washington Redskins."
"For too long, the struggles of Native Americans have been ignored, unnoticed and unresolved," Snyder wrote. "As a team, we have honored them through our words and on the field, but now we will honor them through our actions. We commit to the tribes that we stand together with you, to help you build a brighter future for your communities."