Head of D.C. NFL team’s Native group lost federal contract over ‘unusable’ results

By Arturo Garcia
Friday, March 28, 2014 18:30 EDT
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Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation head Gary Edwards [Facebook]
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The head of Washington D.C.’s National Football League team outreach effort toward Native American communities was criticized by federal investigators for the “unusable” results of a contract with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

A 2012 report by the Department of the Interior (PDF) stated that the bureau paid $970,000 of a one-year contract worth $1 million to the National Native American Law Enforcement Association to recruit more Native Americans for law enforcement positions on tribal land, despite an alleged inability by the association to fulfill its end of the bargain. The head of the association at the time, Gary L. Edwards, was named by team owner Dan Snyder to lead his organization’s Original American Foundation earlier this week.

While rebuking the bureau for ignoring federal regulations and negotiating a flawed contract with Edwards’ group on its own, the report also said Edwards’ organization “took advantage of [the bureau's Office of Justice Services] and the contract defects to produce unusable contract deliverables.”

Both the Post and USA Today reported that out of 748 job applications forwarded to Justice Service officials, none were of use.

The federal Inspector General’s office subsequently recommended the contract be terminated after finding that only 22 out of 514 applications reviewed came from people of Native American descent.

Snyder, who has resisted numerous calls to change his team’s name, said in a four-page statement (PDF) that the Original American group was formed after he consulted with 26 tribal groups during a four-month period.

“The more I heard, the more I’ve learned, and the more I saw, the more resolved I became about helping to address the challenges that plague the Native American community,” he wrote. “In speaking face-to-face with Native American leaders and community members, it’s plain to see they need action, not words.”

The group has reportedly donated 3,000 winter coats to members of several tribes and purchased a backhoe for the Omaha tribe in Nebraska.

The National Council of American Indians released a separate statement giving credit to Snyder for being willing to help tribal communities, while still calling for him to change the name.

“This foundation will only contribute to the problems in Indian Country if it does not also address the very real issue of how Native people are consistently stereotyped, caricaturized, and denigrated by mascot imagery and the use of the R-word slur,” the NCAI wrote. “For Mr. Snyder and the foundation to truly support and partner with Indian Country, they must first change the name of the DC team and prove that the creation of this organization isn’t just a publicity stunt.”

[Image via Facebook]

[h/t Deadspin]

Arturo Garcia
Arturo Garcia
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
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