Oneida Indian Nation Confronts NFL Over Washington Redskins’ Name

The group is leading the effort to end the use of what it considers a racial slur in the football team's name

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Leaders from the Oneida Indian Nation met with officials from the National Football League on Wednesday. The Oneida, who head up the “Change the Mascot” movement, have called the name a divisive racial slur and have fervently advocated for a name change for the Washington Redskins since the season began.

Following Wednesday’s meeting, Ray Halbritter, a representative of the Oneida Nation, told a group of reporters in New York City that he requested an opportunity to meet with all NFL owners during the Super Bowl and invited NFL commissioner Goddell and Redskins owner Dan Snyder to their homelands to discuss the effects the team name has on Native American people.

Halbritter also said he requested an amendment to the league’s bylaws to prohibit the use of “dictionary defined racial slurs” as team names and asked the commissioner to refer Dan Snyder to the executive committee for sanctions if he continues to use the team name.

In his address, though, Halbritter insisted that the meeting and call for the name change is not an attack on Snyder. “This is not about the owner Dan Snyder,” Halbritter said during the press conference. “This is a civil rights issue.”

In a letter to Redskins season ticket holders earlier in October, team owner Dan Snyder said that though he heard the objections to the name as brought forward by the Oneida Nation, he did not have any plans to change it. “After 81 years, the team name “Redskins” continues to hold the memories and meaning of where we came from, who we are, and who we want to be in the years to come,” Snyder wrote. “We are Redskins Nation … and we owe it to our fans and coaches and players, past and present, to preserve that heritage.”

The NFL met with Redskins owner Dan Synder on Tuesday, according to the Washington Post. The NFL is set to publish a response later on Wednesday.