Adrienne Tyler Staff WriterA letter has been written by two member of Congress to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell urging him and the league to change the name of the Washington Redskins, stating that it offends Native Americans and others.
“The NFL can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur. It is clear that you haven’t heard the leading voices of this country – and not just Indian Country. Virtually every major civil rights organization in America has spoken out in opposition to this name including the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League, the Rainbow Coalition and the League of United Latin American Citizens” the letter reads.This letter was written by Sen. Maria Cantwell, chairman of Senate Indian affairs Committee, and Rep. Tom Cole, senior member of the Appropriations Committee and member of the Chickasaw tribe.
Cole is one of two Native Americans in Congress, according to the Congressional Research Service.Taking a stronger tone, the letter also addresses the NFL’s tax-exempt status: “It is not appropriate for this multi-billion dollar… tax-exempt organization to perpetuate and profit from the continued degradation of tribes and Indian people. It is time for the National Football League to formally support and push for a name change for the Washington football team.”
But a reply has already been written by Redskins spokesman Tony Wyllie: “With all the important issues Congress has to deal with, such as a war in Afghanistan to deficits to health care, don’t they have more important issues to worry about than a football team’s name? And given the fact that the name of Oklahoma means ‘Red People’ in Choctaw, this request is a little ironic.”During the annual news conference at the Super Bowl last month, Goodell said that the NFL is attentive to those who have expressed opposition to the Redskins’ name; he also said that the team has “honoured” Native Americans with its use of the name.
“I’ve been spending the last year talking to many of the leaders in the Native American communities. We are listening. We are trying to make sure we understand the issues. Let me remind you” this is the name of a football team, a football team that’s had that name for 80 years and has presented the name in a way that it has honoured Native Americans” Goodell said.However, Cantwell and Cole insist that the team’s name does not honour Native Americans at all:
“Saying the Washington football team ‘honoured Native Americans’ perpetuates a charade that dishonours native people and their governments and erodes the reputation of the National Football League. We believe that the fact that this term does not honour – but rather disparages – Indian people and tribes is what will and should guide federal policymakers”.Meanwhile, Redskins’ owner Daniel Snyder, as well as other team officials, are firm on their decision of not changing the team’s name.
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