Native American tribal leaders meet with NFL to protest Redskins name
WASHINGTON — One of the few times owners from the 32 NFL teams will all be in one place is Super Bowl XLVIII in February.
Officials from the Oneida Indian Nation have asked to join the big party at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, so they can address the NFL’s kingpins about the R-word.
For now, they’ll have to be happy to have met with three vice presidents from the league office.
Representatives of the Oneida Nation met Wednesday in New York with executives from the National Football League — but not NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder.
Native Americans and others protesting the team’s name rallied in Denver on Sunday.
Ray Halbritter, a representative for the Oneida, said he gave NFL vice presidents Adolpho Birch, Paul Hicks and Jeff Pash a letter and a study on the effects of the Redskins name.
“We were somewhat disappointed to say it mildly that they continued to defend the use of the slur,” he said. “It really does require us to redouble our efforts in dealing with this issue.”
A statement from the NFL said the meeting was part of an “ongoing dialogue.”
“We listened and respectfully discussed the views of Mr. Halbritter, Oneida Nation Wolf Clan Representative Keller George and their colleagues, as well as the sharply differing views of many other Native Americans and fans in general,” the NFL said, according to the statement.
Halbritter said the letter asks for another meeting at the Super Bowl so he and the clinical psychologist who put together the study can address every NFL owner on the harm the Redskins name can cause.
“The use of the R-word is not just a victimless crime. It has very real and damaging effects on Native American youth,” he said.
Snyder has said the Redskins name will not change.
“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,” he wrote in a letter on the team’s website.
The nickname is a “badge of honor,” he wrote.
Besides the request for a Super Bowl meeting, Halbritter said the letter also asks Goodell to add an NFL rule that prohibits league franchises from naming teams with dictionary-defined racial slurs. The Oneida also want Goodell to sanction Snyder, if he doesn’t change the name.
And they also invited Snyder and Goodell to come to Oneida land in central New York, the two-page letter says.
The Washington Post reported that Snyder met with Goodell on Tuesday and the Washington owner reiterated he was keeping the Redskins name.
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