The 60-second commercial "Proud to Be," created by the National Congress of American Indians, will reach its largest audience thus far when it's aired Tuesday night during the NBA finals game. Considering a game just a few nights earlier between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs attracted more than 15 million viewers, the ad will likely reach tens of millions of Americans.
"The Change the Mascot movement is larger than Yocha Dehe or any one tribe."
The ad is a beautifully shot video collage of different Native American individuals across the country. It lists off the many terms Native Americans use to refer to themselves—and points out that “redskins” isn't one of them.
"Proud to Be" is the most recent effort by Change the Mascot, a campaign to change the name and mascot of Washington's NFL team. The campaign argues that the team's name is a racial slur and is therefore inherently offensive, no matter what the intentions are of fans, players, or the NFL.
Team owner David Snyder does not agree.
"We'll never change the name," Snyder said in an interview with USA Today. "It's that simple. NEVER. You can use caps."
But opponents are equally confident. “I think the name will be changed within the next three years,” said U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who has been a strong advocate for the change. “Native Americans are organized. We have Native Americans who now are not all poor. We've got these Indian gaming establishments who have money, who are gonna help with this."
One tribe that's stepping up is the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation (pronounced YO-cha DEE-hee), whose land is just west of Sacramento, Calif. The group is the financial backer for Tuesday night's ad, which will air in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Sacramento, San Francisco and, of course, in Washington D.C.
The tribe didn't release how much they paid for the advertising slot, but called it a “significant investment." The Yocha Dehe credit their Cache Creek Casino Resort, originally opened as a bingo hall in 1985, as the source of their financial independence. According to their website, the casino is the largest private employer in Yolo County.
"The Change the Mascot movement is larger than Yocha Dehe or any one tribe," said James Kinter, Yocha Dehe's tribal secretary. "It's about all tribal people and non-tribal people raising their voices in protest."
Check out the full-length, two-minute version of "Proud to Be" below.