We can always count on Super Bowl ads to give us plenty to cry, coo, and protest about (Scarlett Johansson and SodaStream, here's looking at you). But while we can talk about how awesome it is that GoDaddy is (finally) trying to appeal to women, or how adorable Budweiser's "Puppy Love" ad was, there's one commercial many of us didn't see last night that would have taken home the gold —if only the creators had had the money to show it.
The National Congress of American Indians' ad is a carefully-curated critique of the football team the Washington Redskins — or, rather, the team's name. Over the past year, Slate, Mother Jones, and The New Republic have officially discontinued using the word "Redskins," calling the word a slur against the Native American community.
However, a great deal of the coverage surrounding the Redskins controversy has focused on mainly non-Native people, and "most of the coverage of Native peoples in it has been portraying us as whiners or as people who need to get over it," as Adrienne Keene, a member of the Cherokee Nation and a PhD student behind the Native Appropriations blog, told Bustle last year.
But the ad does an excellent job of featuring only Native people. Watch it below:
The video highlights dozens of Native individuals of all ages, of all tribes: Navajo, Blackfoot, Inuit, Sioux; Sitting Bull, Jim Thorpe, and Tecumseh; Native students, soldiers, and doctors; Natives in their tribe's outfits, and Natives in jeans and t-shirts. The video ends with this phrase:
Unyielding, strong, indomitable. Native Americans call themselves many things. But the one thing they don't...
And then, the video ends with a shot of a Washington Redskins football helmet.
The National Congress of American Indians promoted www.changethemascot.org at the end of the ad, a website that has called for a change to the football team's name. Since it was released, the ad has been viewed close to a million times.
The ad was released at the perfect time — the #NotYourMascot hashtag began trending on Twitter on Feb 1. Jacqueline Keeler, who calls herself a "Navajo and Yankton Dakota writer" in her Twitter bio, was the mastermind behind the #NotYourMascot hashtag. She has been writing and campaigning for Native issues for over 14 years now.
Here are a few of the Tweets from #NotYourMascot:
The ad was also released, incidentally, on the day that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made remarks at a news conference about the "Redskins" name that were met with backlash:
We are listening. We are trying to make sure we understand the issues. Let me remind you: This is the name of a football team, a football team that’s had that name for 80 years and has presented the name in a way that it has honored Native Americans.
Here's an excerpt from a press release from Oneida Nation Representative Ray Halbritter in response:
Commissioner Goodell...cites the heritage of the team’s name without mentioning that the name was given to the team by one of America’s most famous segregationists, George Preston Marshall. He also somehow doesn’t mention the heritage of the R-word itself, which was as an epithet screamed at Native Americans as they were forced at gunpoint off their lands.