Random: Watch out Atlanta and Cleveland they’ll be coming for you next.
NFL, Oneida Indians in talks to meet over Redskins name
WASHINGTON — The NFL and the Oneida Indian Nation are in preliminary discussions about holding a face-to-face meeting about the long-simmering controversy surrounding the team name of the Washington pro football club.
That is according to Ray Halbritter, Oneida Nation representative, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports Monday after a symposium on the team name that was organized by the Oneidas.
‘NEVER’: Redskins owner speaks on controversy
Halbritter said organizers sent an invitation to the symposium to Adolpho Birch, the NFL’s senior vice president of labor policy and government affairs. Halbritter said that Birch declined the invitation, citing a heavy workload with the NFL owners’ meeting in Washington this week, but that Birch indicated a willingness for a meeting between representatives of the team and of the Oneida Nation. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has defended the team name but has also said the league needs to listen to those who are offended.
Panelists at the symposium lambasted the team name as racist and wrong. “This is not going away this time,” Halbritter said.
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Kevin Gover, director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, said Americans are taught through popular culture that American Indians are less worthy than other Americans. He suggested that if the team wants to keep its Indian imagery it should change its name to the Washington Americans.
Washington team owner Daniel Snyder told USA TODAY Sports in May that he would never change the name. Panelist Michael Friedman, a clinical psychologist, said making such a statement is a form of harassment. Friedman said the Washington team name is damaging to the self esteem of American Indians and carries public health consequences for a community with high rates of suicide.
U.S. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton of the District of Columbia said, “This name is going to go into the dustbin of history.”
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota, co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus, said: “Mr. Snyder, change the mascot. … Pick one that hurts no one.”
Students who pushed for change at their school in Cooperstown, N.Y., said they got some pushback from the local community there. Halbritter said if young people like them can understand the issue, why can’t grownups who own pro football teams? He also thanked President Obama for saying that if he owned the team, he would consider changing the name.
“This word is mean, rude, impolite,” Gover said, “and we would like you to stop using it.