Reporting Chuck Carroll
LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — Leaders of Native American tribes in Virginia say they don’t have an issue with the name of Washington’s professional football team and have bigger fish to fry.
Their admissions parallel a recent Associated Press/GfK poll that shows nearly 80 percent of all Americans are not offended by the name.
And the other 20 percent appear to be out of luck after team owner Daniel Snyder emphatically stated the name would not ever change.
Robert Green, Chief of the Patawomeck Tribe tells the Richmond Times-Dispatch the name isn’t an issue for the vast majority of members of his tribe.
“About 98 percent of my tribe is Redskins fans, and it doesn’t offend them, either,” Green said.
The team is currently fighting off claims by five petitioners that argue the name “redskins” is disparaging to a significant population of American Indians. That case was heard by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board in March.
If the board, which lawyers say could take up to a year before issuing a ruling, finds in favor of the petitioners, the franchise could lose federal trademark protection.
The Redskins won a comparable case filed in 1992 after years of legal wrangling.
All signs currently point to the plaintiffs fighting an uphill battle to change the name, which has been in place since 1933 when the Redskins were based in Boston.
“I’m a Redskins fan, and I don’t think there’s any intention for (the nickname) to be derogatory,” said Kevin Brown, Chief of the Pamunkey Tribe of Virginia.
Like Green, Brown says the majority of his tribe takes no offense to the name. However, he says the tribe respects the feelings of those who do have an issue with it.
And just as a fan he adds: “I like the uniforms. I like the symbol.”
The Chief of the Rappahannock Tribe took a more blunt approach with her opinion, dismissing the debate as largely irrelevant.
“There are so many more issues that are important for the tribe than to waste time on what a team is called. We’re worried about real things, and I don’t consider that a real thing,” G. Anne Richardson told the newspaper.
“We’re more worried about our kids being educated, our people housed, elder care and the survival of our culture. We’ve been in that survival mode for 400 years. We’re not worried about how some ball team is named.”