After a July review, the majority owner of Washington’s football team has announced that the Redskins’ team name and logo will change.
And President of the Navajo Nation Jonathan Nez has a suggestion for that new team name: the Code Talkers.
The Navajo Marines used their native language to covertly communicate on the World War II Pacific battlefields in a code the Japanese could not break.
“July 13, 2020 is now a historic day for all Indigenous peoples around the world as the NFL Washington-based team officially announced the retirement of the racist and disparaging ‘Redskins’ team name and logo,” Nez said in a press release Monday. “Renaming the team the ‘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.”
The football team started a review of the name on July 3, after mounting pressure from fans and sponsors including FedEx and Nike, ESPN reported in early July.
On Monday the team announced it will retire the current nickname at the end of the review, and majority owner Dan Snyder in tandem with current coach Ron Rivera are working on a new name and design, “that will enhance the standing of our proud, tradition rich franchise and inspire our sponsors, fans and community for the next 100 years,” according to a Redskins statement.
During World War II more than 400 Navajos joined the Marine Corps and became code talkers, fighting at Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, Iwo Jima and Okinawa, Japan, and many of the other hard-won battles in the region.
But they were not alone.
A total of 16 Native American tribes had men became code talkers, with the Navajo and Hopi assigned to the Pacific, the Comanches in Europe and the Meskwaki in Northern Africa.
The code developed by an original group of 29 Navajos was never broken.
Team names rumored to be on the short list are the Washington Warriors, the Hogs and the Redtails ― named after the crimson airplane tails of the famed Tuskegee airmen, who were the first Black U.S. military aviators.
“We strongly encourage the NFL Washington organization to rename their team in such a way that truly honors the First Americans of this country,” Nez said in the press release.