Oneida Nation, D.C.’s Norton Urge Redskins to Change Their Name
The Oneida Indian Nation held a “Change the Mascot” symposium at the Georgetown Ritz-Carlton Oct. 7. The discussion was held in a packed Fahrenheit restaurant. At the same time, the same hotel is also hosting the NFL’s fall league meeting of owners and officials, which begins tomorrow.
Speakers included Ray Halbritter, the National Representative of the Oneida Indian Nation, D.C.’s Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn.
“Washington’s team name is a painful epithet that was used against my people when we were held at gunpoint and thrown off our lands,” Halbritter said. “When marketed by a professional sports team, it is a word that tells Native American children they are to be denigrated.”
Halbritter also cited President Barack Obama’s comments over the weekend that appeared to support changing the name of the Washington Redskins. “It elevated the visibility” of the Oneida Nation’s cause, Halbritter said.
In a fiery speech, Del. Norton said, “Dan Snyder tried four times to trademark the name (Redskins) and failed. The name should go down in the dust bowl of history.” Norton went on to say that under previous ownership the “team was forced to integrate itself” and did so “only because they were playing on Federal land.” She added, “Snyder should not wait to be compelled to do the right thing.”
Rep. McCollum said that when “Washington comes to play in Minnesota on Nov. 7,” the team will be “met with a large presence and our name change mascot.”
Those on the panel also included psychologist Michael Friedman, David Borgstrom, president of the Cooperstown, N.Y., school board, and two students from Cooperstown, who led the effort to change the school's mascot from "Redskins" to "Hawkeyes."
Some NFL officials were invited to the discussion, but none attended.