WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — An Indian tribe from upstate New York that’s campaigning against the Washington Redskins’ nickname held a symposium about the issue at the same Washington hotel near where the NFL is holding its fall meeting this week.
The Oneida Indian Nation’s symposium was purposefully scheduled for Monday, the day NFL owners start arriving for Tuesday’s meeting. Tribal leader Ray Halbritter said the meeting’s time and place provide a great opportunity to bring more understanding about the issue of why the Redskins name is considered offensive by many people.
He said NFL officials would be invited to attend.
“When one of the most valuable franchises in the NFL is using a racial epithet, how do you explain that to children?” Halbritter asked. “How do you explain how it makes you feel as a human being?”
There was no immediate comment from the NFL.
The Oneidas, who run a large casino resort in Verona in central New York, are pushing for a name change as the Washington Redskins face fresh waves of criticism over their nickname. The tribe this season launched a radio ad campaign in the Washington market and in cities that have hosted the team, pressing the franchise to change its name.
Redskins owner Dan Snyder has vowed to never change the name.
Halbritter, who said he was a fan of the team when he was an ironworker in Washington, said the issue is important to Indians in New York and elsewhere because the name is degrading and has devastating effects. Before they focused on the NFL, the Oneidas earlier this year gave $10,000 toward new jerseys to the high school in Cooperstown that changed its nickname from the Redskins to the Hawkeyes.
The entire symposium can be heard below.