WASHINGTON: Battle lines were drawn on Monday over the name of Washington’s beloved American football team, after President Barack Obama indicated he’d favor something less racially charged than Redskins.
The casino-rich Oneida tribe in New York state is spearheading a campaign to get the National Football League franchise to rebrand itself, just as NFL owners hold their fall meeting in the US capital.
“It’s a dictionary-defined offensive term,” said Ray Halbritter, a prominent leader of the Oneida Indian Nation, at a symposium in Washington in the same hotel where NFL owners will be meeting this week.
“When marketed by a professional sports team, it is a word that tells Native American children that they are to be denigrated—that they are second class citizens,” Halbritter said.
Whether the Redskins should retain a name deemed “usually offensive” by the Merriam-Webster dictionary and “dated offensive” by the Oxford dictionary has been a festering issue in Washington for years.
But it reached a new level when Obama, otherwise preoccupied with the US government shutdown, said in an interview published Saturday that “I’d think about changing” the name if he was the Redskins’ owner.