The Oneida Indian Nation held a conference in Washington today to put pressure on the city’s football team to change its name from the Redskins.
The Oneida and other Native Americans say the name is offensive and pressure on the N.F.L. team is growing, including from the president.
The Washington Redskins have used the name for decades and has not expressed interested in considering a name change. In a statement released Saturday, team attorney Lanny J. Davis said:
We at the Redskins respect everyone. But like devoted fans of the Atlanta Braves, the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Blackhawks, we love our team and its name and, like those fans, we do not intend to disparage or disrespect a racial or ethnic group. The name "Washington Redskins" is 80 years old - it's our history and legacy and tradition. We Redskins fans sing 'hail to the Redskins' every Sunday as an expression of honor not disparagement.
The Cooperstown school district here in upstate New York changed their nickname this year from Redskins to Hawkeyes.
The Oneida Nation got behind the student-led movement and offered to buy the athletic department new uniforms.
"As with all changes of that magnitude, there are certainly a number of people who were not in favor of making that change," Cooperstown school superintendent C.J. Hebert told WRVO.
There are people who didn't think the nickname was used in a derogatory manner, he said.
"The change in nickname is something that we see as positive and it’s going to take time before everyone has that same outlook on it," Hebert said.
The Cooperstown school board president and two of the students behind the name change took part in today’s conference. Two members of Congress were also scheduled to take part.
The Oneida Nation declined to make a representative available for an interview with WRVO.
Late last week President Obama told the Associated Press that if he owned the team, he would consider changing the name.