Wednesday morning, multiple fake web sites began to be passed around on social media showing that the Washington Redskins had changed their name to the “Washington Redhawks.”
Four sites mimicking large outlets, including a fake site that is a mirror of Redskins.com, the team’s official home page, were created with fake stories about the name change.
The creation of the sites prompted a statement from the Redskins.
“This morning, the Redskins organization was made aware of fraudulent websites about our team name. The name of the team is the Washington Redskins and will remain that for the future.”
A Twitter account was also created along with the fake sites. Not long after the Redskins’ statement, the creators of the sites issued a statement, identifying themselves as “activists Rising Hearts.”
“We created this action to show the NFL and the Washington Football franchise how easy, popular and powerful changing the name could be,” says Rebecca Nagle (Cherokee Nation), one of the organizers of the stunt. “What we’re asking for changes only four letters. Just four letters! Certainly the harm that the mascot does to Native Americans outweighs the very, very minor changes the franchise would need to make.”
“Since 1970, Native Peoples and our allies have eliminated over two-thirds of these racial identifiers in American sports,” says renowned Native advocate Suzan Harjo (Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee). “We collectively have eliminated over 2,000 of these so-called Native names, logos, symbols, images, mascots and behaviors from the U.S. sport landscape. We can’t rest until all of them are consigned to museums and history books, where they belong.”
“We acknowledge the generations of Native people and communities who have come before us in fighting this mascot,” states Sebastian Medina-Tayac (Piscataway), whose ancestral lands the stadium currently stands on. “We hope this brief moment inspires our country to imagine a world without racist mascots.”
Rising Hearts plans to hold a press conference Thursday at 2 p.m. in front of RFK Stadium and hold a rally at FedEx Field on Sunday when Washington hosts the Arizona Cardinals.
Among the fake pages were a reproduction of ESPN.com, Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback, The Washington Post, and the Redskins’ home page (pictured above).
Each said the team name would be switched to Redhawks starting in the 2018 season. They went so far as to link out to one another. For instance, the fake Washington Post page linked to the fake Redskins home page.
From the fake release on the page that pretends to be part of the Redskins’ site:
The WASHINGTON REDHAWKS is a team EVERYONE can cheer for. The Franchise is proud to be a leader in bringing people together in the DMV and in our country during a time of growing divisions.
The updated “Washington Redhawks” was inspired by team owner Dan Snyder’s deep admiration for Native Americans. “It is a symbol of everything we stand for: strength, courage, pride, and respect—the same values we know guide Native Americans and which are embedded throughout their rich history as the original Americans.”
The hawk was chosen to represent the strength, speed and courage of the Washington Redhawks’ players. The iconic yellow circle, burgundy and gold were kept to commemorate the enduring legacy of the Washington football team.
The fake URLs, washpostsports.com, sportsillustrated.news, espnsports.news and washingtonredhawks.com were recently created. The fake washingtonredhawks.com was created Nov. 10, according to the Internet registry Whois.net. Washpostsports.com was created Nov. 26.
The Redskins’ nickname has drawn criticism and small protests outside of games in the past. Though, it has not been a prevalent topic this season.