Washington Redskins name controversy
The Washington Redskins name controversy involves the name and logo of the Washington Redskins which has been a source of controversy between its owners, certain Native American groups, fans, and the United States government. Some Native American groups insist that the term redskin is a racial epithet, and as such, it perpetuates demeaning stereotypes of Native Americans. Numerous civil rights, educational, athletic, and academic organizations consider any use of native names and/or symbols by non-native sports teams to be a harmful form of ethnic stereotyping which should be eliminated. Others believe that the name is honoring the achievements and virtues of Native Americans, and that it is not intended in a negative manner. Former Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke said "I admire the Redskins name. I think it stands for bravery, courage, and a stalwart spirit and I see no reason why we shouldn't continue to use it." These differing opinions have led to controversy, protests and legal activity.
- 1 History
- 2 Controversy
- 3 Public opinion polls
- 4 Individual opinions
- 5 Comments in the media
- 6 Current status
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 External Links
- 10 See also
The Washington Redskins were originally known as the Boston Braves. In 1933, co-owner George Preston Marshall changed the name to the Redskins, possibly in recognition of the then–head coach William Henry "Lone Star" Dietz, who claimed to be part Sioux. On July 6, 1933, the Boston Herald reported that "the change was made to avoid confusion with the Braves baseball team and the team that is to be coached by an Indian (Dietz)... with several Indian players."
Dietz's true heritage has been questioned by some scholars. There is also the fact that, in 1933, the Boston Braves moved from Braves Field, which they shared with baseball's Boston Braves, to Fenway Park, already occupied by the Boston Red Sox. The name Redskins was chosen by Marshall. The Washington Redskins name and logo, which is a picture of a Native American, was officially registered in 1967.
Origin and Meaning
The origin of the word "redskin" is debated. Some scholars say that the word was coined by early settlers in reference to the skin tone of Native Americans. Smithsonian Institution senior linguist and curator emeritus Ives Goddard asserts that the actual origin of the word is benign and reflects more positive aspects of early relations between Native Americans and whites. It emerged at a specific time in history among a small group of men linked by joint activities that provided the context that brought it forth. That context was the need for a term that all could use in negotiating treaties during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It is later that the term became more pejorative. A linguistic analysis of books published between 1875 and 1930 show an increasingly negative context in the use of redskin, often in association with "dirty", "lying", etc.; while benign or positive usage such as "noble" redskin were used in a condescending manner. The term continued in common use until the 1960s, as evidenced in Western movies, but is now largely considered a pejorative and is seldom used publicly aside from sports teams. As with any term perceived to be discriminatory, different individuals may hold differing opinions of the term's appropriateness.
On its official website, the Washington Redskins have posted articles referencing high school teams using the same name (and often the same logo). The athletic director of Coshocton High School in Ohio is quoted as saying "We are very proud of our athletic teams and very proud to be called Redskins!"  The principal of McCloud High School in McLoud, Oklahoma states that not only students, but the local Native American population takes pride in the name. The coach at Lamar High School in Houston, TX states that “Our school is 75 years old and there’s a lot of pride in it,” he explained. “I think it’s a great mascot, as all of the traits of a Redskins warrior are something to be admired."
The Capitol News Service in Maryland has verified that there are 62 high schools in 22 states continuing to use the Redskins name for their teams, 40% of which have had local efforts to change the name; while 28 high schools in 18 states have dropped the name over the last 25 years.
There is much debate whether the use of the word "Redskin" is acceptable as a name for a sports team. Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune wrote in 1992 "[The Washington Redskins] are the only big time professional sports team whose name is an unequivocal racial slur. After all, how would we react if the team was named the Washington Negroes? Or the Washington Jews? ... It is more than just a racial reference, it is a racial epithet." Larry Dolan, owner of the Cleveland Indians, has criticized the Redskins' team name during a discussion of his own team's controversial Native American logo, Chief Wahoo. According to Dolan, "If we were the Redskins, the day after I owned the team the name would have been changed".
The unofficial mascot of the team is an African American man, Zema Williams (aka Chief Zee), who has attended games since 1978 dressed in a red faux "Indian" costume complete with feathered war bonnet and tomahawk. It is not unusual for other fans to attend games in similar costume.
Many others believe that the name is a positive reference to the culture of Native Americans. Many Redskins fans say that it is a reference to the strength and courage of Native Americans. Some scholars counteract this argument by saying that any stereotype, whether positive or negative, is a hindrance to the advancement of a group. Scott B. Vickers quotes Susan Shown Harjo "the use of any stereotype in the portrayal of Indians is considered ... to be contributory to their dehumanization and deracination." This viewpoint is shared by the many academic disciplines that study the issue and have passed resolutions calling for the end of all Native American mascots and images in sports: the Society of Indian Psychologists (1999), the American Counseling Association (2001), the American Psychological Association (2005), and the American Sociological Association (2007).
Social science research supports the view that sports mascots and images are not trivial. Stereotyping directly effects academic performance and self-esteem, which contribute to all of the other issues faced by Native Americans, including suicide, unemployment, and poverty. Euro-Americans exposed to mascots are more likely to believe not only that stereotypes are true, but that Native Americans have no identity beyond these stereotypes. Research also demonstrates the harm done to society by stereotyping of any kind, with studies showing that exposure to any stereotypes increased the likelihood of stereotypical thinking with regard to other groups.
Advocates of changing the team's name also argue that stereotyping of Native Americans must be understood in the context of history which includes conquest, forced relocation, and organized efforts to eradicate native cultures, such as the boarding schools of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which separated young Native Americans from their families in order educate them as Euro-Americans. "Since the first Europeans made landfall in North America, native peoples have suffered under a weltering array of stereotypes, misconceptions and caricatures. Whether portrayed as noble savages, ignoble savages, teary-eyed environmentalists or, most recently, simply as casino-rich, native peoples find their efforts to be treated with a measure of respect and integrity undermined by images that flatten complex tribal, historical and personal experience into one-dimensional representations that tells us more about the depicters than about the depicted." 
National protests began in 1988, after the team's Super Bowl XXII victory, when a number of Native Americans wrote letters to Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke encouraging him to change the name. Others boycotted Redskins products and protested. At one protest "Native Americans handed the fans redskin potatoes as they entered a Redskins game, suggesting that if the team will not change their name altogether, then they should at least change their mascot to the potato." Many of these events were led by Suzan Shown Harjo of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). Cooke responded to these pleas in an interview stating "There's not a single, solitary jot, tittle, whit chance in the world that the Redskins will adopt a new nickname."
There was a large protest at the 1992 Super Bowl between the Redskins and the Buffalo Bills. Since the game was held in Minnesota, the area's large Native American population was able to protest the name. The American Indian Movement's (AIM) Vernon Bellecourt was one of the main organizers of the event. Before and during the game, approximately 2,000 Chippewa, Sioux, Winnebago, and Choctaw, and other Native Americans and members of the local population protested. Some of the signs they carried read "We are not Mascots", "Promote Sports not Racism", and "Repeal Redskin Racism".
With the renewed effort to eliminate the name during the 2013 football season, protest picketing at the stadiums has occurred wherever the Redskins have played, particularly in cities with a significant population of Native Americans; such as Dallas, Denver  and Minneapolis. Coinciding with the latter protest, a number of Minneapolis politicians voiced their positions; Mayor R.T. Rybak and six members of the City Counsel condemning the name. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton called the name "antiquated, offensive and racist". Also participating in the Minneapolis protests were Congresswoman Betty McCollum, 1964 Olympic gold medalist Billy Mills, and American Indian Movement co-founder Clyde Bellecourt.
At the team's home stadium in Landover, MD a protest was joined by representatives of other ethnic minorities. “This is an American issue,” Hakim Muhammad, of the Coalition of Prince George’s County Leaders and Organizations, said November 25, 2013. “When you have a name that is disparaging to any nation of people, it affects all of us. Period.” 
In the 1990s the owner at that time, Jack Kent Cooke, wanted to build a new stadium in Washington, D.C. In addition to other legal and environmental requirements that delayed the project, U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell introduced legislation that would have required Cooke to change the name of the Redskins before a stadium deal could be approved.
Legal and regulatory action
In 1992, Suzan Shown Harjo, President of the Morning Star Institute, with six other prominent Native Americans represented by the Dorsey & Whitney law firm of Minneapolis, petitioned the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to cancel the trademark registrations owned by Pro-Football, Inc. They based their lawsuit on the claim that federal trademark law states that certain trademark registrations are not legal if they are "disparaging, scandalous contemptuous, or disreputable." The legal battle went on for seven years and in 1999 the PTO judges canceled the federal registration of the mark REDSKINS "on the grounds that the subject marks may disparage Native Americans and may bring them into contempt or disrepute."
The owners appealed the decision to a district court in the District of Columbia in Pro-Football, Inc. vs. Harjo. The court reversed the PTO's decision on the grounds of insufficient evidence of disparagement. Subsequent appeals have been rejected on the basis of laches, which means that the Native Americans had pursued their rights in an untimely and delayed manner. However a second case, Blackhorse v. Pro-Football, Inc., with younger plaintiffs whose standing might not be hindered by laches is proceeding in 2013. If the trademark registration were canceled, the Washington Redskins would still be able to keep the name and many of the same trademark rights but would lose several benefits conferred by a federal trademark registration.
A bill was introduced in the US House of Representatives on March 20, 2013 by Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, Delegate from American Samoa, and co-sponsored by 19 others to amend the Trademark Act of 1946 to void any trademark registrations that disparage Native American Persons or Peoples, such as redskins. Ten members of congress also sent a letter to the NFL commissioner, all of the team owners including Dan Snyder, and Fred Smith, CEO of FedEx, a primary sponsor of the team; requesting that the name be changed due to the many Native American organizations that oppose the continued use of the name, and in order to fulfill the NFL's own policy regarding diversity. A co-sponsor, Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D - DC), stated she supports the local team but not the name.
Some members of congress and former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) officials have sent a letter to the current chairman of the FCC asking that the use of "redskin" by broadcast media be prohibited in the same manner as other racially charged words. Signers of the letter include:
- Reed E. Hundt, chairman of the FCC from 1993 to 1997, and Former FCC commissioners Jonathan Adelstein, Tyrone Brown, Nicholas Johnson
- Law Professors: Jasmine Abdel-Khalik (U. of Missouri-Kansas City), Anthony Farley (Albany School of Law), Natsu Taylor Saito (Georgia State University), and Katheryn Russell-Brown
- Attorneys: John Echohawk, Larry Irving, Blair Levin, Mee Moua
- Dr. Heather Shotton, President, National Indian Education Association
- Debbie Goldman, Telecommunications Policy Director, Communications Workers of America
- Former FCC official, now Ambassador to the OECD, Karen Kornbluh
The Council of the District of Columbia passed a resolution November 5, 2013 stating its position that the name should be changed. Since the team plays in Maryland and practices in Virginia, it has no legal force. Montgomery County, Maryland Executive Isiah Leggett is also considering asking the County Council to pass a similar resolution. He will drop “Redskins” from all of his office’s announcements and news releases. The matter has been referred to the county Human Rights Commission, but quick action is not expected.
Public opinion polls
Despite vocal and legal action from Native American groups and scholars, the vast majority of people surveyed on the subject in prior years did not find the name offensive. Following the 1992 Super Bowl protests, The Washington Post posted a survey in which "89 percent of those surveyed said that the name should stay." In a study performed in 2004 by the National Annenberg Survey, Native Americans from the 48 continental U.S. states were asked "The professional football team in Washington calls itself the Washington Redskins. As a Native American, do you find that name offensive or doesn't it bother you?" In response, ninety percent replied that the name is acceptable, while nine percent said that it was offensive, and one percent would not answer. The problem of individuals claiming to be Native American when they are not is well known in academic research, limiting the value of public opinion polls of the mascot issue. It is a particular problem when non-natives claim Indian identity to gain authority in the debate over sports mascots.
More recent national polls show continued support for retaining the name, although lower (79%) than previously. The opinion of Redskin fans continues to favor keeping the name. Comments made by fans on the web in response to news stories tend to dismiss the controversy as political correctness, and that the name refers to nothing except the football team.
In July 2013 The Washington Post conducted a phone survey of people living in the DC Metro Area. No questions about ethnicity were asked, only whether respondents supported the continued use of the Redskins name and if they were sports fans in general and fans of the team in particular. 66% of the respondents supported retention of the name, while 82% said that if the name did change, they would continue to support the team. A small majority (56%) of those that would keep the name also thought that the word "redskin" was not an appropriate way to describe a Native American Indian.
Similar results came from a poll of residents of the DC Metro Area commissioned by the Oneida Indian Nation of New York and conducted in October, 2013 which found that although sports fans want to keep the name, 59% also say Native Americans have a right to feel offended by the term redskins and 44% say that when they learn the term is defined as 'offensive' by the dictionary, they are more likely to support changing the team name. Additionally, most people (66%) say that if Snyder meets with Native American leaders, he should not refer to them as "redskins" because the term is inappropriate.
There are basic issues with the reliability of public opinion polls that overshadow their value in many cases. There has been a decline in the willingness of people to participate, now down to about 10%, so there is no way of knowing whether there is any systematic bias in the results. Survey methods influence the results, with those done by traditional mail over-sampling the elderly, and telephone surveys done using only land-lines under-sample the young, who only have cell phones.
Steve Russell, an enrolled Cherokee citizen and associate professor of criminal justice at Indiana University, states that both SI and Annenberg's samples of "self-identified Native Americans... includes plenty of people who have nothing to do with Indians".
Louis Gray, president of the Tulsa Indian Coalition Against Racism and an Osage Indian: “You wouldn’t [take a poll] with any other race. You wouldn’t have African-Americans vote to decide whether or not any sort of racial epitaph would be offensive.” 
In order to support their position the Washington Redskins post the opinions of individual fans on their web site, for example an interview with Stephen Dodson, a resident of Prince George's County, MD where the Redskins stadium is located. Dodson stated that he is a full-blooded American Inuit chief originally from the Aleutian Tribes of Alaska, and that he is not only honored by the name Redskin but that it is even a term of endearment. Dodson's claims were soon contested; his sister stating that "Chief" was only a nickname. Also, an anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institution familiar with the tribes of Alaska states that the Inuit and the Aleuts are distinct groups, and they do not call themselves "Indians" but rather "Alaskan Natives".
Contrasting comments by individuals in the mainstream media (listed by date) include:
- Pro Golfer Notah Begay (Navajo/Pueblo) calls Redskins nickname ‘institutionalized degradation’ 
- Art Monk and Darrel Green, former Redskins and Football Hall of Famers, think a name change should be considered. 
- Mark Murphy CEO of the Green Bay Packers and former Redskin: [nickname is] "derogatory to a lot of people".
- Amy Trask, former CEO of the Oakland Raiders: "As a society, we should seek to inspire people to be tolerant and respectful of others, regardless of our differences. Using Redskins as the name of an NFL team does not further this goal." 
- Rev. Graylan Hagler, pastor of the Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, DC has spoken against the Redskins name for 20 years, and is glad that President Obama agrees.
- Marv Levy, former NFL Coach: "...a crude word, even if not intended to insult." 
- Three Virginia Indian leaders say they not offended by the name Redskins, but are more concerned about other issues such as the lack of Federal recognition for any Virginia tribe. There are other individuals who state they are both Native American and ardent Redskins fans.
- Former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs supports the name, while former Redskins Joe Theismann, Joe Jacoby, Doug Williams, and sportscaster James ‘JB’ Brown distance themselves from the current controversy.
- Interviews at a powwow In Towson, MD find several Native Americans who favor a change of the Redskins name.
- Thomas G. Smith, professor of history at Nichols College, sees a parallel between the current debate and the resistance to racial integration 50 years ago, when the Redskins became the last NFL team to have a black player.
- Byron Dorgan former Senator and chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee: "Most words that once were used to hurt and to reflect intolerance have been now recognized as unacceptable. That should be the case with the name Washington Redskins." 
On Monday, November 25, 2013 as part of the NFL’s "Salute to Service" month and Native American Heritage month, the Washington Redskins recognized four members of the Navajo Code Talkers Association briefly during a commercial break. Each was wearing a new Redskins jacket.  Amanda Blackhorse, also Navajo, and the lead plaintiff in the current case to cancel the Federal trademarks of the Redskins wrote: "Using four Navajo elders does not justify what they are doing and does not change anything. At the end of the day, the name is still inappropriate and disparaging toward Native American people." The Washingtonian Magazine described the event as a publicity stunt and "awkward".
Comments in the media
The following publications limit their use of the team nickname, although most said they would not strike "Redskins" from quotations:
- The Portland Oregonian (April 1992): Following Native American protests at the World Series and Super Bowl, the editor made the decision to stop using all Native American names.
- Kansas City Star (24 Sep. 2012): The Star's public editor defended his publications' "longtime policy" of avoiding the term "Washington Redskins" by finding "no compelling reason ... to reprint an egregiously offensive term as a casual matter of course."
- Washington City Paper (18 Oct. 2012): The alt weekly WCP unveiled the results of its readers poll, referring to the capital's NFL team thereafter only as "Washington Pigskins" (or "'Skins") "instead of the name the team prefers, which is a pejorative term for Native Americans."
- The New Republic's editor, Franklin Foer, tweeted that his publication would follow Slate's "air-tight" logic and drop "Redskins" from its stylebook.
- Mother Jones magazine said it would be "tweaking our house style guide" by following Slate, The New Republic, and the Washington City Paper, referring thereafter to "Washington's pro football team."
- The Richmond Free Press announced October 17, 2013 that it will no longer use the Washington NFL team name in news or editorial columns because it is "insulting to Native Americans, racist, and divisive".
- San Francisco Chronicle (30 Oct. 2013): The Chronicle's managing editor Audrey Cooper told KCBS that the paper would refer to the team as "Washington," adding, "Why should we err on the side of using an offensive term when we don't have to?
- Orange County Register (7 Nov. 2013): Speaking on 'Redskins,' OCR sports editor Todd Harmonson said, "It is the Register’s policy to avoid using such slurs, so we will not use this one, except in stories about the controversy surrounding its use.”
However, major news organizations continue to use the Redskins name.
- DCist (11 Feb. 2013): The Washington-area news website DCist published an editorial announcing it would refer to the local NFL club as the Washington football team instead of its trademarked name, which DCist agreed is "distasteful, vulgar, and racist."
- Slate in a story (8 Aug. 2013) stated, "This is the last Slate article that will refer to the Washington NFL team as the Redskins."
- The Capital News Service (31 Oct. 2013): This news wire service at the Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland said it would thereafter call the team “Washington’s NFL franchise.”
Robert Lipsyte states that there has been discussion about the use of the name at ESPN, but it is unlikely that it or any other major sports network will stop using Redskins in reporting due to a general consensus that it should report the news (including the controversy) but not take sides, and that taking sides would injure their ability to cover the games. There are also the corporate affiliations that make it unlikely. Steven Gaydos, Vice President & Executive Editor of Variety states his opinion that the broadcast networks should tackle the Redskins name issue.
Writers / Commentators
The following individuals in the media have taken a position that the name should be changed, some also deciding that they will stop using it in their own reporting.
- Jeff Bercovici, (Forbes): "For Redskins, Name Change Is A Question Of When, Not If"
- Christine Brennan of USA Today Sports: "It's the right thing to do. If that's not reason enough, try explaining and defending the nickname to a child. It's impossible." In a subsequent column Brennan writes that the NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell should make the decision that the owner is resisting.
- Michael Brick - author, former sportswriter for the New York Times and third-generation fan of the Washington Redskins on why he is not going to use the team’s nickname anymore: "When people tell you they are offended by a word describing an ethnic group, they do not have to prove it. You have the right to continue using that word. But then you are responsible for understanding the consequences of shifting from unintentionally to intentionally giving offense."
- Cris Collinsworth: "Redskins’ no longer works" 
- Bob Costas, NBC Sports: Redskins’ name was “undeniably” a slur.
- Gregg Easterbrook, senior editor of The New Republic and writer of Tuesday Morning Quarterback for ESPN.com.
- Kevin Ewoldt, Managing Editor for HogsHaven.com: "It's the organization we root for and bond with, not a picture or mascot name." 
- John Feinstein, sports columnist and commentator: "Daniel Snyder ‘knows no shame’." 
- Mike Florio, NBC Sports: [I]ntent doesn’t matter; people say unintentionally offensive things all the time...some Native Americans are offended, and the number seems to be increasing.
- Bob Glauber, Newsday 
- Tim Graham, The Buffalo News: "The R-word should not tumble from our mouths so effortlessly, so thoughtlessly." 
- Sally Jenkins, Washington Post columnist: "It’s time the grown-ups talk sense into Daniel Snyder" 
- Peter King: "I can do my job without using ["Redskins"], and I will."
- Tony Kornheiser, Sports Writer and ESPN Commentator, wrote in 1992 that the name should change.
- Charles Krauthammer, political columnist, wrote that unlike other examples of "the language police" he dislikes, use of the term redskins has become a pejorative in modern times similar to the use of the term negro for African Americans and that the name should be changed.
- Robert McCartney, reporter for The Washington Post
- Cortland Milloy, columnist for The Washington Post
- Phil Mushnick, NY Post, makes two points: A name with any racial implications such as Redskins would not be selected for a new team today; and no one would refer to a Native American as a redskin to their face.
- Leonard Pitts Jr., The Miami Herald: "‘Redskins’ is an offensive word, period." 
- Bill Plaschke, sports writer for the Los Angeles Times: "'Redskins' is no honor, it's an insult." 
- Ronnie Polaneczky, Philadelphia Daily News makes a personal comment regarding the team owner: "In a perfect world, Snyder wouldn't need a high-profile finger-shake from the leader of the free world to hear the pain he has unwittingly caused." 
- William C. Rhoden, New York Times sports columnist, compares Redskins owner Dan Snyder to former Governor George C. Wallace of Alabama, both being on the wrong side of history.
- Brad Sham, announcer for the Dallas Cowboys, tries to avoid using the name. 
- John Smallwood, Philadelphia Daily News columnist: "I no longer will consciously used the official name of the NFL team in Washington" 
- Jim Vance, news anchor for NBC4 in Washington, DC comments on racism towards any other minority not being tolerated, using the example of Jeremy Lin.
- DeWayne Wickham, USA Today columnist: "Redskins' Snyder no misguided good guy" 
- Michael Wilbon, ESPN 
- Juan Williams, Fox News: If the team gets a new name its gotta be good.
- Mike Wise, sports writer for The Washington Post has been a long-time critic of the name.
- Dave Zirin, Sports Editor for The Nation
Support for the name
In 1992, columnist Andy Rooney wrote that protesting team names such as "Redskins" is silly, but after receiving many letters from Native Americans he wrote "when so many people complain about one thing, you have to assume you may have been wrong".
Sports writer Rick Reilly of ESPN, making a case similar to the owner and fans that all discussions about native mascots and names are mere political correctness, "silly", and do not take into account the Native Americans who are not offended. As proof Reilly quotes his father-in-law, a member of the Blackfeet tribe of Montana. However, the father-in-law, Bob Burns, has replied that he was misquoted, and actually said "if the name offends someone, change it". Dave Zirin, sports editor for The Nation, replied in an article that Reilly's was the "Most Irredeemably Stupid Defense of the Redskins Name You Will Ever Read". (Many writers and bloggers were quick to point out that Reilly's 2013 column could be used as a point-for-point counter-argument to his 1991 Sports Illustrated column "Let's Bust Those Chops", which argued against the continued use of all Native American names and mascots.)
In a commentary published by The National Interest, conservative W. James Antle III supports the position that, based upon public opinion polls, the number of Native American opposed to "Redskins" has not reached the number needed to warrant defining the name as an offensive slur. He rejects the criticism of polls as unrepresentative based upon the lack of identification of respondents as members of tribes who are culturally Native American, and labels the those who oppose the name as "activists" who have manufactured the controversy.
In May 2013 ten members of Congress sent a letter to the team owner and the NFL Commissioner requesting that the name be changed since it is offensive to Native Americans. Dan Snyder responded that the name will never change, and in June 2013 Roger Goodell cited the nickname's origins and traditions and polls that support its popularity. In direct response to the President's comment, the team's lawyer, Lanny Davis, repeats the team position that no offense is intended to Native Americans, and refers to both the 2004 poll and a recent AP poll that show a large majority of people nationally support the continued use of the name.
The Oneida Indian Nation of New York is sponsoring a series of radio ads as part of a new campaign to have the name changed. The campaign included a symposium and protest that coincided with a meeting of the NFL. The topic came up in an interview of President Barack Obama, who stated that if he were the owner of the Redskins, he would consider changing the name because it offends many Native Americans. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi has also stated that the name should be changed.
The National Congress of American Indians has issued a report summarizing opposition to Indian mascots and team names generally, and the Washington Redskins in particular. Leaders of the Five Civilized Tribes passed a resolution calling for the Washington football team to drop the name Redskins.
In response to the continued controversy, the team owner Dan Snyder sent an open letter to fans that was published in The Washington Post on October 9, 2013. In the letter Snyder states that the most important meaning of the name Redskins is the association that fans have to memories of their personal history with the team. Snyder also states that the name was chosen in 1933 to honor Native Americans in general and the coach and four players at that time who were Native American; and that in 1971 the then coach George Allen consulted with the Red Cloud Indian Fund on the Pine Ridge reservation when designing the logo. However the Red Cloud Athletic Fund sent a letter to the Washington Post stating that "As an organization, Red Cloud Indian School has never—and will never—endorse the use of the name “Redskins.” Like many Native American organizations across the country, members of our staff and extended community find the name offensive."
On October 30, 2013, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell met with the Oneida Indian Nation and Dan Snyder separately to discuss the Redskins name. Snyder informed Goodell that he does not intend to change the team's name. According to Oneida spokesman Joel Barkin, the league defended the use of the Redskins name. "We are very disappointed," Barkin said. "This is the beginning of a process. It's clear that they don't see how this is not a unifying term. They don't have a complete appreciation for the breadth of opposition of Native Americans to this mascot and name."
A group of sixty-one religious leaders in Washington, DC sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and team owner Dan Snyder stating their moral obligation to join the Change the Mascot movement due to the offensive and inappropriate nature of the name which causes pain whether or not that is intended.  
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