U.S. Rep. Dan Maffei spoke to the House on Tuesday in support of the Oneida Indian Nation's efforts to have the Washington Redskins team name changed. Maffei said the team name is deeply offensive and should be changed out of respect.
"The name of Washington football team is derogatory to the Native Americans of this country," Maffei said. "For many Native Americans across the lands, the name of the Washington football team is a deeply personal reminder of a legacy of racism and generations of pain."
Maffei, a Syracuse-area Democrat, joins a campaign backed by many civic and government leaders, including the president.
"President Obama said recently, 'if I were the owner of the team and I knew that there was a name of my team, even if it had a storied history, that was offending a sizeable group of people, I’d think about changing it.' I wholeheartedly join this effort," Maffei said.
Last month the NFL met with members of the nation in New York City, but the Oneida Nation expressed disappointment when the NFL chose to stand by the name.
Maffei said he hopes NFL officials will continue to meet with the Oneida in the spirit of the Treaty of Canandaigua, a friendship treaty made between Native Americans and Europeans 400 years ago.
Maffei said if America's first and current presidents respect Native Americans, the NFL should too.
"President Washington had a six-foot-long treaty belt fashioned to ratify this treaty that our two peoples should live in peace and friendship," Maffei said. "George Washington himself respected the Native Americans of this country and their culture. Shouldn’t the NFL team that bears his name do the same?"