The Washington Football Team, which is choosing a new nickname and logo that depart from any “linkage to Native American imagery,” will not consider “Warriors” as an option, team president Jason Wright wrote Monday.
Wright made the announcement in his “weekly brief” posted on the team’s website, citing the team’s “inclusive process to listen to all voices” with a “particular emphasis to engaging, listening and learning from Native American leaders and individuals throughout the country.”
That process was “not just the simple, easy-to-categorize ‘who’s for or who’s against’ polling of our old name, but research revealing the psychological effects of Native American team names on American Indian and Alaska Native youth,” he wrote.
“In sum, this engagement demonstrated to us a consensus that moving forward with no ties to Native American imagery is the right path. I am personally and deeply grateful for the Native American community leaders who engaged with us, sharing painful, raw and real stories that persist to this day. Their stories affirmed our decision to move in a new direction in the creation of our new name and identity, and we are proudly forging ahead in this journey with a promise to our community — a promise to continue to be inclusive in our process and collaborative with our fans,” he wrote.
That led Wright to address the Warriors nickname, which he said had emerged as a possible new identity among the team’s fans. The franchise had sent a survey to season-ticket holders for their thoughts on possible nicknames earlier this year, and Warriors reportedly was one of options listed.
“One might look at this name as a natural, and even harmless transition considering that it does not necessarily or specifically carry a negative connotation. But as we learned through our research and engagement with various groups, ‘context matters’ and that makes it a ‘slippery slope,'” he wrote.
“Feedback from across communities we engaged clearly revealed deep-seated discomfort around Warriors, with the clear acknowledgment that it too closely aligns with Native American themes. Such an embrace of potentially Native-adjacent iconography and imagery would not represent a clear departure that many communities have so forcefully advocated for us to embrace, and that frankly, we set out to do when we started this process a year ago.”
Washington decided to retire its previous name last summer. It hasn’t yet settled on a new name or logo, but there will be a permanent one in place for the 2022 season. It will continue as the Washington Football Team this season.
“We have 89 years of history in this league and failing to acknowledge our past use of Native imagery in the consideration of the new name wouldn’t be mindful of the individuals and communities that were hurt by the previous name. We’ve made significant changes in our organization and our culture, and our new name must reflect these changes. To that end, we will choose an identity that unequivocally departs from any use of or approximate linkage to Native American imagery,” Wright wrote.