Obama Says Redskins Nickname Is Offensive, Gets Backing From Native American Leaders

Nathan Francis - Author

Nov. 12 2013, Updated 9:38 p.m. ET

President Obama said the Redskins name needs reconsidering, and this week the praise of one of the main groups leading the charge against a team name they find offensive.

In remarks made last month, Obama said he realizes that Washington Redskins fans don’t mean offense by the nickname, but if it were up to him the name would definitely be changed.

“I’ve got to say that if I were the owner of the team and I knew that there was a name of my team – even if it had a storied history – that was offending a sizeable group of people, I’d think about changing it,” he said.

Obama said ultimately, the fans’ strong affiliation with the Redskins name and mascots should not “override the real, legitimate concerns that people have about these things.”

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The President may not be getting far with his suggestion. The team’s owner, Daniel Synder, has said in the past that he has no intention of changing the name of the team.

And Snyder has resisted suggestions from Washington before. Earlier this year 10 members of Congress sent a letter to Snyder urging him to change the team’s name.

In the letter, the 10 members wrote: “Native Americans throughout the country consider the ‘R-word’ a racial, derogatory slur akin to the ‘N-word’ among African Americans or the ‘W-word’ among Latinos.”

On Tuesday, Native American leaders met at the White House to thank Obama for his Redskins stance. Ray Halbritter of the Oneida Nation, a leader in the effort to force the NFL to change the team’s name, offered his support for Obama as the president received a standing ovation from tribal leaders.

The Oneida Nation has also helped other teams with name changes, including a high school in Cooperstown, New York, that changed its team name from Redskins to Hawkeyes. The Oneida Nation helped the school pay for new jerseys.

There may be more support for Obama and his Redskins stance. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has also said it may be time to reconsider the team’s nickname.


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