Washington Redskins: Name Change Flap Puts Team on Defensive

Image: Washington Redskins: Name Change Flap Puts Team on Defensive

Thursday, 10 Oct 2013 12:29 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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While the Washington Redskins prepare to take on their rivals the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night, the team has been on the defense as activists and public figures criticize their team name. 

Last week, Obama told the Associated Press that if he owned the Washington Redskins, he would "think about" changing the name of the team because some Native Americans might find it offensive. 

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"I don't know whether our attachment to a particular name should override the real legitimate concerns that people have about these things," he said.

The Redskins quickly responded to Obama's comments on its website. 

"As a supporter of President Obama, I am sure the president is not aware that in the highly respected Annenberg Institute poll (taken 2004) with a national sample of Native Americans, 9 out of 10 Native Americans said they were not bothered by the name the 'Washington Redskins,'" said team attorney Lanny Davis on the Redskins' website.

"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," he added.

Redskins owner Dan Snyder has repeatedly said he would never change the name of the team. The NFL announced this week that for the first time it has agreed to sit down with the Oneida Indian Nation on Nov. 22 to talk about its concerns over the Redskins name, according to the New York Daily News. 

The meeting seems to show NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who had supported the Redskins name, is opening the dialogue for changing the name. This past summer, Goodell backed the Redskins name in a letter to Congress, after a handful of legislators asked for it to be changed. 

"Whenever you have a situation like this, you have to listen and recognize that some other people may have different perspectives," Goodell said Tuesday at the NFL owners’ meeting in Washington. "And clearly there are cases where that’s true here. We need to listen and carefully listen and make sure that we’re doing what is right long-term."

The subject has given hope for some longtime Native American activists like Suzan Shown Harjo, who told the Associated Press that such references are "relics of the past."

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Related stories:

Oneida Tribe Calls on Washington Redskins to Change Name

Redskins Name Change Not Happening, Says Owner Dan Snyder

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