Washington Redskins name controversy
The Washington Redskins name controversy involves the name and logo of the National Football League (NFL) franchise located in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Native American individuals, tribes and organizations have been questioning the use of the name and image for decades. Over 115 professional organizations representing civil rights, educational, athletic, and scientific experts have published resolutions or policies that state that the use of Native American names and/or symbols by non-native sports teams is a harmful form of ethnic stereotyping that promote misunderstanding and prejudice which contributes to other problems faced by Native Americans. The Washington, D.C. team is only one example of the larger controversy, but it receives the most public attention due to the name itself being defined as derogatory or insulting in modern dictionaries, and the prominence of the team representing the nation's capital.
Those officially censuring and/or demanding the name be changed include 23 Native American tribes and more than 50 organizations that represent various groups of Native Americans, the full list of which can be found below. There is also a growing number of public officials, sports commentators and other journalists advocating a change. In addition to picketing and other forms of direct protest, opponents took legal action to cancel the trademarks held by the team. On June 18, 2014, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) again voted to cancel the Redskins federal trademark registrations, considering them "disparaging to Native Americans". On July 8, 2015 the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, VA upheld the TTAB decision.
Support for continued use of the name has come from the team's owners and a majority of fans, which include some Native Americans. Supporters say that the name honors the achievements and virtues of Native Americans, and that it is not intended in a negative manner. Some, such as team president Bruce Allen, also point to the use of Redskins by three high school teams, two on reservations, that have a majority of Native American students. Supporters also assert that a majority of Native Americans themselves are not offended, based upon a largely discredited public opinion poll in 2004 in which 90% of those who identified as American Indians answered that they were "not bothered" by the name "Redskins" being used for the Washington football team. However, in a commentary published soon after that poll, fifteen Native American scholars collaborated on a critique that stated that there were so many flaws in the Annenberg study that rather than being a measure of Native American opinion, it was an expression of white privilege and colonialism. National public opinion polls consistently find that a majority of the general public support the team's continued use of the name, ranging from 89% in 1992 to 71% in September 2014.
- 1 History
- 2 Controversy
- 3 Protests
- 4 Continuing calls for change
- 5 Team and NFL responses
- 6 Name change as a business decision
- 7 Governmental and regulatory action
- 8 Public opinion polls
- 9 Native Americans and organizations advocating change
- 10 Editorial policies regarding use of the name
- 11 Individual opinions
- 12 In popular culture
- 13 See also
- 14 Notes
- 15 References
- 16 External links
The Washington Redskins were originally known as the Boston Braves. In 1933, the team moved from Braves Field, which they shared with baseball's Boston Braves, to Fenway Park, already occupied by the Boston Red Sox. 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 ancestry has been questioned by some scholars, as a birth certificate and census records recorded his parents as white. This does not preclude his having had Sioux ancestry as well; however, he served a month in jail when the documentation of his ancestry he presented to claim an exemption from the draft during World War I could not be authenticated. John F. Banzhaf III, Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University Law School, cites a newspaper article from 1933 in which Marshall is quoted as saying the name was selected only to save money by not having to change the logo of the Braves, and not to honor Dietz or the Indian players. The logo for the NFL Braves when Dietz became coach was similar to the current logo, a Native American head in profile with braids and trailing feathers. The current logo, proposed by Walter Wetzel, a former Blackfeet tribal chairman and president of the National Congress of American Indians, was introduced in 1972 and is modeled after the likeness on the Buffalo nickel. Members of the Blackfeet tribe today express a range of opinions, from support to indifference to strong opposition to the Redskins name based upon their personal experiences.
Origin and meaning
The origin of the word "redskin" is debated. Some scholars say that it was coined by early settlers in reference to the skin tone of Native Americans, while others say it referred to the color of the body paint used by certain tribes. Frequently cited is the paper by Ives Goddard, a Smithsonian Institution senior linguist and curator emeritus, who asserts that the term was originally benign in meaning, and reflected positive aspects of early relations between Native Americans and whites. Goddard cites historical instances of Native Americans identifying as red men, or RED-SKIN, and redskins. However, in an interview Goddard admits that it is impossible to verify if the native words were accurately translated.
In a lecture on the origins and meaning of "redskin", Dr. Darren R. Reid of Coventry University presents a number of reasons why he argues the term is racist. To begin with, it is difficult for historians to document anything with certainty since Native Americans, as a non-literate society, did not produce the written sources upon which historians rely. What is cited as Native American usage was generally attributed to them by European writers. Also, the division of human beings into different races with essentially different, immutable characteristics was evolving during the period of European colonization; thus there were some that did not think of "Indians" as a race at all, but people who could become members of colonial society though re-education. Many colonials thought of Indians as essentially the same color as Europeans who became "red" through the use of pigments. The use of "Redskin" rather than "Indian" thus marked the speaker as believing that Native Americans are a different race than Europeans in the same way that African people are "black". The use of "red" in its various forms, including redskin, by Native Americans to refer to themselves was not likely original, but reflected their need to use the language of the times in order to be understood by Europeans. The team logo works together with the name to reinforce an unrealistic stereotype: "It is not up to non-Indians to define an idealized image of what it is to a Native American." The "positive" stereotypes allow fans and supporters to honestly state that they are honoring Native Americans, but this is "...forcing your idea of what it is to honour those people onto them and that, fundamentally, is disrespectful."
A controversial etymological claim is that the term emerged from the practice of paying a bounty for Indians, and that "redskin" refers to the bloody, red scalp of a Native American. During the entire history of America until the turn of the twentieth century, Indigenous Americans were hunted, killed, and forcibly removed from their lands by European settlers. Although official documents do not use the word, at least one historical association between the use of "redskin" and the paying of bounties can be made. In 1863, a Winona, MN newspaper, the Daily Republican, printed an announcement: "The state reward for dead Indians has been increased to $200 for every red-skin sent to Purgatory. This sum is more than the dead bodies of all the Indians east of the Red River are worth." In An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, 'redskin' is said not to refer to scalps, but to the bloody bodies left behind by scalp-hunters. This association can evoke strongly negative sentiments. In a 2014 interview after the Trademark decision, Amanda Blackhorse the lead petitioner expressed her opinion: "The name itself actually dates back [to] the time when the Native American population was being exterminated, and bounty hunters were hired to kill Native American people... So, in order to show that they made their kill, they had to bring back a scalp or their skin."
A linguistic analysis of 42 books published between 1875 and 1930 shows that negative contexts in the use of "redskin" were significantly more frequent than positive usage. The use of the word Indian to refer to Native Americans in a similarly selected set of books was more balanced, though negative contexts outnumbered positive contexts. As with any term perceived to be discriminatory, different individuals may hold differing opinions of the term's appropriateness. In current dictionaries of American English, the word is classified as "usually offensive", "disparaging", "insulting", and "taboo". The usage section of the definition of "redskin" in the Oxford English Dictionary states that through the process of pejoration, the originally neutral term acquired an unfavorable connotation and became a term of disparagement. It is generally avoided in public usage with the exception of a name for sports teams. The American Heritage style guide advises that "the term redskin evokes an even more objectionable stereotype" than the use of red as a racial adjective by outsiders, while others urge writers to use the term only in a historical context.
Some defenders of the name point to Native American use of the term, including three predominantly Native American high schools with the Redskins mascot. Native American writer and attorney Gyasi Ross compares Native American use of variations of the r-word with African-American use of variations of the n-word. The use of these terms by some members of minority communities does not mean that these words may be used by outsiders. Ross also notes that while activism on the issue may be from a minority of Native Americans, this is due to most being concerned with more immediate issues, but also says "The presentation of the name "Redskins" is problematic for many Native Americans because it identifies Natives in a way that the vast majority of Natives simply don't identity ourselves." These are examples of "reappropriation", in which images and symbols used as disparaging are "owned" by the target group as part of reclaiming control of their identity.
In the Washington Redskins trademark litigation, the main issue was the meaning of the term during the period when the trademark registrations were issued, 1967–90, which was 35 years after the name was chosen. Dictionaries when the name was chosen, and through the 1960s and 1970s defined the term as simply: a North American Indian, but by the early 1990s had added the current negative connotations. The linguistic expert for the petitioners, Dr. Geoffrey Nunberg, argued that whatever its origins, "redskins" was a slur at the time of the trademarks, based upon the passages from books and newspapers and the movie clips in which the word is inevitably associated with contempt, derision, condescension, or sentimental paeans to the noble savage.
The issue is often discussed in the media in terms of offensiveness, which reduced it to feelings and opinions, and prevents full understanding of the history and context of the use of Native American names and images and why their use by sports teams should be eliminated. Social science research says that sports mascots and images, rather than being mere entertainment, are important symbols with deeper psychological and social effects. Stereotyping may directly affect academic performance and self-esteem of Native American youth, whose people face high rates of suicide, unemployment, and poverty. Euro-Americans exposed to mascots may be more likely to believe not only that such stereotypes are true, but that Native Americans have no identity beyond these stereotypes. Research demonstrates the harm of stereotyping, with studies showing that exposure to any stereotypes increased the likelihood of stereotypical thinking among citizens with regard to other groups.
Advocates of changing the team's name say that use of stereotypes of Native Americans must be understood in the context of a history that includes conquest, forced relocation, and organized efforts by federal and state governments to eradicate native cultures, such as the boarding schools of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. "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."
In addition to the names and images, Native Americans opposed to mascots point to the oversimplification of their culture by fans "playing Indian" with no understanding of the deeper meaning of feathers, face paint, chants, and dancing. Dr. Richard Lapchick, director emeritus of Northeastern University's Center for the Study of Sport in Society, in an article: "Could you imagine people mocking African Americans in black face at a game? Yet go to a game where there is a team with an Indian name and you will see fans with war paint on their faces. Is this not the equivalent to black face?"  The unofficial mascot of the Redskins team is Zema Williams (aka Chief Zee), an African American man who has attended games since 1978 dressed in a red, faux "Indian" costume, complete with feathered war bonnet and tomahawk. Other fans often dress in similar costume for the games. In December 2013 when the Washington NFL team played the Kansas City Chiefs an employee of a Sonic Drive-In in Missouri placed a message outside that used scalping, reservations and whiskey to disparage the "Redskins". It was quickly removed with the owner's apologies.
The Redskins controversy was revived in 2013, starting with a symposium in February on the topic at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. The Oneida Indian Nation of New York sponsored a series of radio ads in each city to coincide with games of the 2013 season, each featuring a targeted message. The campaign also began with a symposium and protest that coincided with the Fall meeting of the NFL in Washington, D.C. A broader range of persons spoke out in favor of change or open discussion, including local government leaders, members of Congress, and President Barack Obama. Statements in support of a name change have been made by Native American organizations, religious leaders in Washington, D.C.; and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, which includes the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the American Civil Liberties Union as members.
The owner and the NFL Commissioner, supporters of keeping the name and logo, say they believe that it refers positively to Native Americans, invoking qualities of strength and courage. The majority of scholars argue that the use of any stereotype, whether positive or negative, is a hindrance to the advancement of a group. Scott B. Vickers wrote, "the use of any stereotype in the portrayal of Indians is considered ... to be contributory to their dehumanization and deracination." The national organizations representing several academic disciplines, after reviewing the research done on the issue, have passed resolutions calling for the end of all Native American mascots and images in sports. These include the Society of Indian Psychologists (1999), the American Counseling Association (2001), the American Psychological Association (2005), the American Sociological Association (2007). and the American Anthropological Association (2015).
In a report published by the Center for American Progress summarizing the research on "The Real Impact of Native Mascots and Team Names on American Indian and Alaska Native Youth", a case is made that the public debate misses the point, since individual opinions on either side do not matter given the measurable effects on the mental health of Native American young people exposed to such misrepresentations of their ethnic identity, and the often hostile or insulting behavior of non-natives that occur when teams with such names and mascots play. Clinical Psychologist Michael Friedman writes that the use of Native imagery, in particular the use of a dictionary defined slur, is a form of bullying, the negative impact of which is magnified by its being officially sanctioned.
Linkage to other racial controversies
The immediate punitive action taken by the National Basketball Association (NBA) for Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's private comments regarding black people prompted some members of Congress to question why Redskins owner Dan Snyder did not receive equivalent treatment for racism by the NFL. Senate majority leader Harry Reid restated his opposition by saying "It's time for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to follow NBA counterpart Adam Silver's lead and rid his "league of bigotry and racism" by forcing the Washington Redskins to change their nickname." However, Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic Governor of Virginia, where the team is headquartered and has its training facility, reiterated the position he took during his campaign that the name of the team is a business decision, adding that the Sterling case is not comparable to the Redskins debate.
The Supreme Court decision in Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, in which the display of a Confederate Battle Flag on license plates issued by the state of Texas was deemed government speech rather than private speech protected by the First Amendment, was mentioned in opening arguments in the case Pro-Football, Inc. v. Blackhorse, etal. An attorney for the Native Americans asked both parties to address whether the Supreme Court’s ruling applies to the Redskins’ “free speech” argument. Others have asked if the use of any symbol with historically racial associations should continue to be used. It is noted that proponents of the continued use of the Redskins name and the Confederate Flag often use similar arguments: that these symbols represent history and honor rather than racism.
Although often assumed to be a debate of recent origins, the local Washington, DC newspapers have published news items on the controversy many times since at least 1971, all in response to Native American individuals or organizations asking for the name to be changed. Kevin Gover, the director of the National Museum of the American Indian states that he sent a letter objecting to the name in 1973 to then owner Edward Bennett Williams. Having moved from Oklahoma to the DC area while in high school, he was shocked to find that the "nastiest thing people ever said to us had become the name of an NFL team? I didn’t comprehend it then, and I don’t now".
National protests began in 1988, after the team's Super Bowl XXII victory. Numerous Native Americans wrote letters to Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke encouraging him to change the name. Others boycotted Redskins products and protested. Many of these events were led by Suzan Shown Harjo of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). Cooke responded 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 protest of about 2,000 people at the 1992 Super Bowl between the Redskins and the Buffalo Bills. The game was held in Minnesota, and many Native Americans from the region came out to protest the name. The American Indian Movement's (AIM) Vernon Bellecourt was one of the main organizers of the protest. Before and during the game Chippewa, Sioux, Winnebago, and Choctaw, and other Native Americans and other members of the local population, protested. Their signs 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 occasionally when 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 described the name as "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, Maryland, a protest on November 25, 2013 was joined by representatives of other ethnic minorities. "This is an American issue," said Hakim Muhammad, of the Coalition of Prince George’s County Leaders and Organizations. "When you have a name that is disparaging to any nation of people, it affects all of us. Period."
A small group of Native Americans protested in front of the stadium in Houston before the season opener with the Redskins on September 7, 2014. The previous day, a number of fans took up a "keep the name" chant when Dan Snyder attempted to address the crowd at a rally.
The University of Minnesota asked the Minnesota Vikings to keep the Washington team's name from being used in printed materials or uttered by the game announcer at the school’s stadium in Minneapolis where the Vikings are playing while their stadium is under construction. University President Eric Kaler has stated that the Redskins name is "offensive and should be replaced." University officials said the use of the Redskins name at their stadium violates the institution’s affirmative action, diversity and equal opportunity policy. Lester Bagley, the Vikings’ executive vice president of public affairs, said that the team is still deciding how it will handle the college’s request. However, the Vikings are limited by the legal obligation to treat all NFL teams equally. There are differing legal opinions as to whether a section in the contract between the university and the Vikings prohibiting "any language...that might denigrate any class or group of people" would preclude the use of the Redskins name at the stadium. An anti-racism coalition threatened to sue the university if they do not enforce a ban on the name at the stadium.
More than one hundred Native Americans rallied against the Redskins in Glendale, AZ when the team played the Arizona Cardinals on October 12, 2014. At the game, Navajo Nation president Ben Shelly was seated next to team owner Dan Snyder wearing a Redskins cap. However, Shelly is a lame duck after one term, having lost a primary ballot for re-election. The Navajo tribal council passed a resolution in opposition to the team name. Students of the Red Mesa High School, which also uses the Redskins name, attended the game with free tickets provided by the team. They were taunted by the protestors. "I just kept my head down," said Kelvin Yazzie, a Red Mesa senior lineman who lives with his grandparents. "[The protesters] were calling me a sellout."
A large protest march and rally with thousands of Native American participants was held before the game between Washington and the Minnesota Vikings on November 2, 2014. Police estimates of the number of protestors was between 3,500 and 4,000, while organizers put the number at 5,000. Fans were confronted by the protestors at the stadium with some tension and verbal exchanges, but no violence. Some fans hid or covered Redskins attire as they passed the protestors. There was a march and protest by 300-400 Native Americans at the game in San Francisco on November 23, 2014. Participants included Clyde Bellecourt, Charlene Teters and Jacqueline Keeler. Members of the American Indian Movement of Kentucky and Indiana protested in Indianapolis on November 30, 2014. Some fans defended the Redskins name, and there were some heated exchanges.
At the final game of the 2014 season, about 150 protestors held a rally and march adjacent to FedEx Field. Organized by several Native American organizations, speakers included Tara Houska, an attorney and member of the Couchiching Nation and Gregg Deal, an artist and member of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe. Fans passing the protest made dismissive comments, while a few shouted insults and obscenities at the group which included women and children. One of these fans later apologized for his actions, stating he got carried away defending his team, not the name.
Continuing calls for change
The executive board of the nation’s leading organization of scholars of U.S. history approved a resolution in April 2015: “The Organization of American Historians hereby adds its voice to the growing demands by Native American organizations, our sister disciplines, and conscientious people of all ethnic backgrounds, to change the name and logo of the Washington “Redskins.”
At its annual conference the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCHR) passed a unanimous resolution of the 85 representatives present that, while recognizing that a business has the First Amendment right to use any name that it chooses, others need not be complicit in the use of a pejorative and insulting name; and calling upon all Federal, state and local government entities "to end any preferential tax, zoning, or policy treatment that could be viewed as supporting the franchise as long as it retains its current team name". The resolution also commended the "current and former government officials, media outlets, and other entities that have encouraged the Washington Redskins franchise to change its team name or that have refused to be complicit in promoting the current team name". In response, the team released a brief statement reiterated their previous position, and quoting two individuals as being both Native American and Redskins fans who do not want the name to change. The LCCHR issued a press release in 2014 applauding the decision to cancel the trademark protection for the team's name. The NAACP issued their own press release supporting the TTAB decision stating "The NAACP has called specifically for this name change since 1992, and will continue to stand with the Native Indian community until the derogatory moniker has been changed."
In April 2014, a United Nations (UN) expert on the rights of indigenous peoples called on the owners of the Washington Redskins football team to consider that the term "redskins" is the hurtful reminder of the long history of mistreatment of Native American people in the United States, and that the name perpetuates stereotypes that obscures understanding of the reality of Native Americans today and instead helps to keep alive racially discriminatory attitudes.
The Fritz Pollard Alliance, a non-profit organization closely allied with the NFL on civil rights issues, has decided to announce its support of a name change after repeated attempts to discuss the issue with the team owner and representatives. An attorney for the Alliance, N. Jeremi Duru, an American University law professor, made a study of the controversy in which he concluded that Native Americans are justified in finding the name offensive.
Religious leaders and organizations
In 1992, the Central Conference of American Rabbis issued a resolution calling for the end of sports teams names that promote racism, in particular the Atlanta Braves and the Washington Redskins. In 2013 a group of sixty-one religious leaders in Washington, D.C. 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.
In a meeting March 1, 2014, the Board of Directors of the Central Atlantic Conference of the United Church of Christ (UCC) unanimously passed a resolution proposing that its members boycott Washington Redskins games and shun products bearing the team’s logo until the team changes its name and mascot. Team spokesman Tony Wyllie offered a response, saying, "We respect those who disagree with our team’s name, but we wish the United Church of Christ would listen to the voice of the overwhelming majority of Americans, including Native Americans, who support our name and understand it honors the heritage and tradition of the Native American community." The team tried to make its case by having three members of the Blackfeet Nation call church leader Rev. John Deckenback, who said the three didn’t promote the team’s cause, and called the interaction a "somewhat weird experience." At its annual meeting in June 2014, the membership of the UCC passed a resolution supporting the boycott. In June, 2015 the United Church of Christ General Synod passed a resolution calling for a stop to using images or mascots that could be demeaning to the Native American community.
Members of the Indian Affairs Committee of the Baltimore Yearly Meeting of the Society of Friends approved a formal statement condemning the name of the Washington football team, stating that "the NFL has violated its core principles for decades by allowing the team playing in Washington, D.C., to carry the name 'redskins,' a racist epithet that insults millions of Native Americans. Continued use of the term encourages and perpetuates persecution, disrespect, and bigotry against Native men, women, and children". The Torch Committee, the student government organization of the Sandy Spring Friends School in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, voted to ban any apparel on the campus which includes the Redskins name, although the logo would continue to be allowed.
Team and NFL responses
Following the February 2013 symposium "Racist Stereotypes and Cultural Appropriation in American Sports" at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, 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. In response, team owner Daniel Snyder famously told USA Today: "We'll never change the name. [...] It's that simple. NEVER—you can use caps." However, team lawyer Lanny Davis stated that "never" set the wrong tone. Snyder sent an open letter to fans that was published in The Washington Post on October 9, 2013 in which he stated 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. In 2013 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." At a ceremony in April 2014 marking a donation to a school in Sterling, VA near the Redskins' training facility, Snyder repeated his position that the team's name "is not an issue" and will not change.
In June 2013 Roger Goodell cited the nickname's origins and traditions and polls that support its popularity. On October 30, 2013, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was scheduled to meet 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. NFL representatives, rather than the commissioner, then met with the Oneida Nation Incorporated. 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."
The team continues to cite public opinion polls showing support for the name. The 2014 annual poll of issues regarding the NFL included one question indicating 71% of the general public are in favor of keeping the name, with 18% in favor of a change. On their website the team states: "This poll, along with the poll taken among Native Americans by the Annenberg Institute, demonstrates continued, widespread and deep opposition to the Redskins changing our name. The results of this poll are solidly in line with the message we have heard from fans and Native Americans for months – our name represents a tradition, passion and heritage that honors Native Americans. We respect the point of view of the small number of people who seek a name change, but it is important to recognize very few people agree with the case they are making." The Onieda Indian Nation "believes more Americans would favor changing the team name of the Washington NFL club if they understood the full context of what the Oneidas and others consider a racial slur." Mike Florio points out that since an AP poll taken in April 2013 showed 79% in favor of keeping the name; the 71% result in the new poll is a significant decrease in support in a short time. A 2014 AP-Gfk Poll, however, showed 83% support keeping the name.
The team's general manager, Bruce Allen addressed a letter dated May 23, 2014 to Senator Reid repeating the position that the name was originated by Native Americans to refer to themselves, that the logo was also designed and approved by Native American leaders, that the vast majority of both Native Americans and the public do not find the name offensive, and the Original Americans Foundation is making contributions to the more important issues facing Native Americans. There was also a post on the team's Twitter account asking fans to send Senator Reid a message in support of the team, which apparently backfired when most of the tweets supported a name change.
Redskins Facts is an online community of Washington Redskins fans and others who support the team’s use of its name and logo. The site is officially sponsored by Redskins Alumni including former players Gary Clark, Chris Cooley, Mark Moseley, Ray Schoenke and Roy Jefferson; who traveled to the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation in Montana during the last week of July 2014. Although promoted as a grass-roots effort to defend the name, there is evidence that it is actually the work of a well-known PR firm specializing in crisis management. The facts presented are generally the same as those previously used to defend that name, including its historical origin and intention to honor its first coach and several Native American players; however, the validity, significance, and meaning of these facts have been questioned. In an interview with Cooley, Dan Snyder also restates that his position on the name controversy is based upon the facts regarding the origins of the name and logo, and the support of Native Americans. In his defense of the name, Mark Mosley made many references to his upbringing that included a close association with the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, and their support the name; however, Tribal Council Chairman Ronnie Thomas said in a statement, "While Mr. Moseley once associated with the Tribe, it is incorrect to say that the Tribe supports his efforts to maintain the mascot name."
Team highlighting of Native American support
In May 2013, the Redskins' website reported the opinions of a local fan, Stephen D. Dodson, who claimed to be a chief and "full-blooded American Inuit originally from the Aleutian Tribes of Alaska." He said that not only was "Redskins" not offensive to him and his "whole family", but it was a "term of endearment" that Indians "on the reservation [...] would call each other". On June 5, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wrote a letter to Congress, which in part pointed to "recent remarks from Chief Steven Dodson, an American Inuit chief" to indicate support for the nickname among Native Americans. Two weeks later, Dave McKenna of Deadspin reported that the Redskins' "full-blooded American Inuit chief" was "neither a full-blooded American Inuit nor a chief in any formal sense," and "Chief" was only a nickname. The only documentation McKenna found that referred to Dodson as "Chief" was on a list of AKAs from court records related to "theft, paternity, and domestic violence matters." (The same records say Dodson's middle name is "Dallas.") McKenna quotes Kelly Eningowuk, executive director of the Inuit Circumpolar Council-Alaska, who says that neither "Chief" nor "Indian" are terms used by Alaska's native peoples in self-description. She said the pow wows Dodson claims to have attended would be irrelevant to his supposed Inuit ancestry.
On 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. Three of the four were wearing a new Redskins jacket. One of them, Roy Hawthorne, has stated, "My opinion is that's a name that not only the team should keep, but that's a name that's American." This action was criticized. In April 2014, Navajo Nation Council voted in favor of a statement opposing the name of the Washington team, as well as other disparaging references to American Indians by other professional sports franchises. The Office of the President and Vice President of the Navajo Nation recently participated in a charity function sponsored by the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation.
The Redskins released a two minute video on YouTube entitled "Redskins is a Powerful Name" in which a number of Native Americans express their support for the team. Of the fourteen individuals; five are members of the Chippewa Cree tribe on the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation in Montana and are associated with the Team Redskins Rodeo club. Two are Mike Wetzel and Don Wetzel, Jr. (Blackfeet), descendents of the logo designer, and the six others are members of various tribes and state that they are fans of the team and find nothing wrong with the name, or think it is positive. One of the individuals in the video is Mark One Wolf, who first came to the attention of the team when he visited the 2014 training camp and proclaimed himself a Native American in favor of the name; however, it was reported he was unable to spell the name of the tribe he said he was representing, the Chiricahua Apache. Later investigations have reported that he was born Mark E. Yancey in Washington, DC of African-American and Japanese descent.
Other teams that use the name Redskins
Supporters note that three predominantly Native American high schools use the name Redskins for their sports teams, suggesting that it can be acceptable. However, the principal of one of these, Red Mesa High School in Teec Nos Pos, Arizona, said that use of the word outside American Indian communities should be avoided because it could perpetuate "the legacy of negativity that the term has created."
On its official website in early 2013, the Washington team posted articles referring to high school teams using the same name (and often the same logo). The athletic director of Coshocton High School in Coshocton, Ohio is quoted as saying, "We are very proud of our athletic teams and very proud to be called Redskins!" The principal of McLoud High School in McLoud, Oklahoma says that not only students, but the local Native American population takes pride in the name. The coach at Lamar High School in Houston, Texas says, "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."
However, the number of high schools using the Redskins name has been in steady decline, forty percent having had local efforts to change the name. From 1988 until April 2013, 28 high schools in 18 states had done so. Subsequently, six additional high schools changed, including Lamar High School in Houston cited above. which became the Texans in April, 2014.
Name change as a business decision
Two professors at the Goizueta Business School at Emory University summarized their research in a New York Times editorial. Studies of college teams that have changed their names and mascots indicate that doing so has a long-term financial benefit. While vocal opponents of change often threatened withdrawal of support, these never materialized. There have been no name changes by professional teams; however, a comparison of NFL teams shows the highest negative trend in brand equity being the Washington Redskins and the Kansas City Chiefs, calling into question the business logic of retaining Native American names or logos that are offensive to even a minority. In a commentary for Forbes, Tom Van Riper states that research specifically considering the fan loyalty and traditions of the team indicates that the value of the name as a brand is significant, and unlikely to change for business reasons. However, an alternative opinion is that the team would benefit from a re-branding, but any new name would need to be carefully selected. According to Forbes the Redskins are the ninth most valuable sports franchise in the world in 2014.
Unlike local governments, there have been no public statements issued by Washington Metro Area business groups, likely due to the lack of consensus on the debate and the responsibilities of private business to take sides on such issues.
2014 sales of Redskins merchandise has shown a decline of 35%. "People are having a second thoughts about wearing a T-shirt with the logo or name that it has now been called racist," said Matt Powell, senior analyst for SportsSourceOne. A team spokesman attributes the decline to dismal performance in the 2013 season, but other teams with bad records have not seen such a steep decline in sales.
The e-commerce site Etsy has announced that in accordance with its policy prohibiting content that "demeans people based upon race, ethnicity, religion, gender, gender identity, disability, or sexual orientation" it will no longer allow merchandise with the Redskins name or logo. As of the date of the announcement, there were approximately 2,800 items listed for sale that would be affected.
The major sponsors, including FedEx, Bank of America, Anheuser-Busch, and Sprint Corporation; have made no public response to media inquiries regarding the name of the team. Asked more recently by Mother Jones, a spokesperson for Coca-Cola stated that they play no role in the decision, and defer to the team and the NFL. The Virginia Lottery says that they have had no complaints, and are not considering altering their sponsorship; while New York Life states it will reassess at the end of the season. Ticketmaster declined to comment, while StubHub did not respond.
On June 19, 2014 a group of investors filed a shareholder proposal asking FedEx to "respond to reputational damage from its association with the Washington D.C. NFL franchise team" and its name controversy. FedEx possesses the naming rights to the team's stadium, FedExField, in Landover, MD through 2026. The CEO of FedEx, Fred Smith, declined to give an answer when asked about the company's sponsorship. In response to a request from the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin that FedEx reconsider its relationship with the Washington team, 99.9% of shareholders voted in September 2014 in favor of continuing the Redskins and FedEx partnership. The Principal Chief of the Osage Nation has issued a directive that employees should no longer use FedEx due to its sponsorship of the Washington NFL team, and urging other tribal nations to take similar actions. In June, 2015 the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) also ended its use of FedEx, stating "In good conscience, NARF can no longer support our use of FedEx as our primary carrier. The FedEx Corporation’s support of the Washington NFL team has continued to contribute to the defamation of our people and contributes to the perpetual harm done to our people and especially our children." The Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes, the largest tribe of Native Alaskan peoples, announced June 25, 2015 that their employees will no longer use of FedEx services due to its sponsorship of the team using a name many view as derogatory to indigenous peoples.
Governmental and regulatory action
Statements by political figures have generally been expressions of personal opinion rather than recommendations for government action. There have also been a number of non-binding resolutions proposed or passed by legislative bodies.
On March 20, 2013, a bill was introduced in the United States House of Representatives 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 NFL 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. The bill entitled "The Non-Disparagement of Native American Persons or Peoples in Trademark Registration Act" was re-introduced in February, 2015 by Rep. Michael M. Honda, (D-California). Eventually the bill had 33 co-sponsors, all Democrats, but never emerged from committee to be voted upon.
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, but that he didn't " have a stake " in the issue as he is not an owner of a professional sports team. In direct response Lanny Davis repeated 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.
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." Rep. Dan Maffei, (D-N.Y.), said in a speech on the House floor that he was siding with the Oneida Indian Nation and its push to drop the football team's name. Both House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) have stated that the name should be changed. In an interview on May 2, 2014, Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) stated that he would probably change the name because there are Native Americans who are offended. Attorney General Eric Holder gave his personal opinion, as a fan of the team, the name should change, saying that it is offensive. In a television interview Hillary Clinton said that the name should change because it is insensitive. In May 2014, the New York State Assembly unanimously passed a resolution condemning the promotion and marketing of dictionary-defined racial slurs as mascots and urging the owners of professional sports franchises to refrain from doing so. On August 18, 2014 the California State Assembly passed by a 49-5 vote a resolution urging the NFL "to adhere to the wishes of the millions of people who have joined Indian Country in urging that they change the team mascot."
On May 22, 2014, fifty U.S. Senators, forty-eight Democrats and two Independents, sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Goodell asking the league, referencing the Donald Sterling case, "send the same clear message as the NBA did: that racism and bigotry have no place in professional sports." Five Democratic Senators declined to sign the letter, and Republicans were not invited to do so. In his weekly conference call with Iowa reporters June 26, 2014, U.S. Senator Tom Harkin said "It has become clear to me over time that the name of the "Washington Redskins" is an affront to Native Americans and it is time to change it."  No Senators have publicly supported the name, but rather have either declined to give an opinion or stated their opposition to Senate involvement in the issue.
Although the majority of those advocating a name change are Democrats, there is no indication that the issue is of any real significance in electoral decisions given that Native Americans are such a small percentage of the electorate and are not likely to influence the outcome of any election. There are only eight states where Natives make up greater than 2 percent of the population: Alaska, Arizona, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wyoming. However, polls show a definite political difference in the opinion of the general public, with only 58% of Democrats opposing a name change versus 89% of Republicans.
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), chairwoman of the Committee on Indian Affairs and Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a member of the Chickasaw Nation, have written a letter to Commissioner Roger Goodell about the NFL’s stance on the Washington Redskins name. The letter makes the following points:
- The National Congress of American Indians represent over 250 tribes and millions of Native Americans. They aggressively support a name change as they find the name of the Washington NFL team to be offensive.
- Continuing to defend the name on the basis of public opinion polls and claiming that the name "honors Native Americans" perpetuates a charade and dishonors the NFL.
- The name has been determined to be a slur by virtually every civil rights organization and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
- The NFL is on the wrong side of history in continuing to perpetuate and profit from the degradation of tribes and Indian people while enjoying the benefits of being a tax-exempt, non-profit organization.
Cantwell stated that the letter is in response to comments made by Goodell in a recent news conference. However, many have pointed out that Cantwell has attended several universities who used the "Redskins" name in association with their football teams without any complaints, nor has she made any attempt to have schools in her electoral district using the name "Redskins" to drop the name.
A spokesman for the Redskins, Tony Wyllie, responded in an email: "With all the important issues Congress has to deal with, such as a war in Afghanistan to deficits to health care, don’t they have more important issues to worry about than a football team’s name?"
One of the few calls for government action was made in a letter dated May 9, 2014 to the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) called for a hearing on the name of the Washington NFL team. He said that, given the public benefits enjoyed by the NFL, the team owner and the NFL commissioner should explain why their actions are in the public interest.
A Federal judge in Maryland has forbidden the use of Redskins in court documents except for in direct quotes.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, while expressing her personal opinion that she is surprised that the name has not changed given the racial overtones of referring to skin color, also states that tribal leaders do not bring up the issue in discussions with her. However, Jewell, in response to DC Mayor Muriel Bowser's expressed interest in having the team return to the city, stated that the National Park Service, which owns the land, would not likely allow a new stadium to be constructed without a name change.
On September 16, 2014 Senator Cantwell announced her intention to introduce a bill that would strip the NFL of its tax-exempt status due to its inaction on the Washington team name.
On October 3, 2014 the Minneapolis City Council passed two measures, the first a resolution asking the Washington team to change its "racist, offensive" name, the other directing the city attorney to research whether the city has legal authority under its civil rights law to enforce a ban on the use of the name and the team logo anywhere in TCF Bank Stadium when Washington plays the Vikings in Minneapolis. A series of educational programs on the issue are planned at the stadium in advance of the next game on November 2, and a protest is planned on the day of the game.
Two New Jersey legislators have introduced three resolutions, asking the owner to change the name, asking that New Jersey retailers refrain from selling merchandise with the name or logo, and that the New York Giants (which is headquartered in New Jersey) not sell any Washington merchandise at their stadium or use the name in promotional material.
Federal Communications Commission
Lead by Reed E. Hundt, chairman of the FCC from 1993 to 1997, other former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) officials and experts in communications law sent a letter in 2013 to the current chairman of the FCC asking that the use of "redskin" by broadcast media be regulated in the same manner as other racially charged words. Other racial slurs are generally prohibited entirely based upon FCC rules regarding profanity and obscenity; or the name could have only limited use based upon whether its use is in the public interest. In particular, Hundt argued that Snyder should be declared unfit to own radio stations (he owns Red Zebra Broadcasting, owners of Redskins flagship station WTEM) because the FCC "has been reluctant to give broadcast licenses to people who advocate racially intolerant positions". Jessica Rosenworcel is the only current FCC commissioner so far to publicly state that she has concerns about the name, and recognizes that it is offensive to a number of people. The current head of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, agrees that the name is derogatory and should be changed, but does not plan to use the power of the agency to force the change. George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf challenged the licensing of the radio stations operated by Red Zebra Broadcasting, and those of the TV affiliates of the broadcast networks that air NFL games, on the basis of the term "Redskins" being a racial slur that should not be routinely used, particularly during prime time when children are listening. A report on the high incidence of violence against Native American children by non-natives is being cited as evidence that the use of the word Redskins is not only a racial slur but is "hate speech" which should be regulated by the FCC. The report comes from the Attorney General's Advisory Committee on American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence. Native American petitioners in the cases filed by Banzhaf state that they have experienced or witnessed harm to Native Americans which they believe was caused by "the frequent repetitive use of the word 'R*dskins' on the air." On December 18, 2014 the FCC rejected Banzhaf's petition regarding WWXX-FM on the basis that "Redskins" is not profanity, which is defined as being sexual or excretory in nature.
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 (USPTO) 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." In 1999 the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) 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." Under Federal trademark if 30% of a group is allegedly disparaged, it is considered substantial disparagement under the law. Since 1992, the USPTO has rejected eleven applications for other trademarks that included the word redskins, based on the same reason of disparagement. Some of the applications were made by Pro-Football, Inc., including "Washington Redskins Cheerleaders". The owners appealed the Harjo decision to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in Pro-Football, Inc. v. Harjo. In 2005 the court reversed the TTAB'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.
A second case was filed, Blackhorse v. Pro-Football, Inc., with younger plaintiffs whose standing might not be hindered by laches. On June 18, 2014, the TTAB again voted to cancel the six trademarks held by the team in a two to one decision that held that the term "redskins" is disparaging to a "substantial composite of Native Americans", and this is demonstrated "by the near complete drop-off in usage of 'redskins' as a reference to Native Americans beginning in the 1960s."  The TTAB majority held that the NCAI represented about 30 percent of Native Americans during the time in question, which the Board found satisfied the substantial composite test.
The TTAB also found that the term "redskin" refers to Native Americans (rather than having an "independent meaning" as the team sometimes claims) as shown by the costumes worn by both the cheerleaders and marching band from the 1960s until the 1980s, and the native imagery used on the press guides for many years.
Evidence of disparagement submitted by the petitioners in the case include the frequent references to "scalping" made by sportswriters for sixty years when reporting the Redskins loss of a game, and passages from movies made from the 1940s to the 1960s using "redskin" to refer to Native Americans as a savage enemy. A linguistics expert for the team unsuccessfully argued that the name is merely a descriptive term no different than other uses of color to differentiate people by race.
In a press release the trademark attorney for the team stated that they were confident that they would once again prevail on appeal, and that today's decision will make no difference in the continued use of the Redskins name. Plaintiff Amanda Blackhorse, a social worker and member of the Navajo Nation, said in an interview, "We’ve been through this process for eight years now. We will continue to fight. And, you know, this is not the end for us."
Reaction to the TTAB decision has often characterized it as government interference in a private business, or as an improper limitation on freedom of expression. The decision in fact makes no change to the team's use of the name, but withdraws the government from the responsibility to regulate the use of the name by anyone. The team retains other rights under common law, but must enforce them without government assistance. However, in the opinion of one intellectual property law firm, the team "may be hesitant to sue another for infringing its marks because of the risk that a court could possibly determine that the team has no protectable interest in the name because of its disparaging nature".
The Washington Redskins filed its appeal of the case on August 14, 2014; stating their belief "that the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) ignored both federal case law and the weight of the evidence". They also cite infringement of their First Amendment right to free expression. On September 22, 2014 the Native Americans asked that the team's appeal be dismissed because it names them as individuals, which is contrary to federal law, and because the appeal was filed with the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, VA; stating that the Redskins should have filed its case against the patent office in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, DC. In Oct, 2014 Judge Gerald B. Lee rejected the Native American plaintiffs attempts to have the teams appeal dismissed.
The ACLU has filed an Amicus brief stating that while it found the name Redskins repellant, the government should not be able to decide what types of speech are forbidden, and that the provision of the Lanham Act barring the trademark of disparaging terms is unconstitutionally vague in its wording and has not been applied with consistency. On March 23, 2015 the Attorney General's Office filed a brief addressing the Constitutional issues; stating that as commercial speech, the team name and logo are not protected by the First Amendment; and that there is a large number of cases supporting the cancellation of the trademarks. The brief also stated that the court should also reject the claim that the cancellation of trademarks constitutes a illegal taking of valuable property which is barred by the Fifth Amendment. By opening up an inquiry into constitutional issues regarding limits on disparaging speech in order to protect "the unique cultural heritage" of the American Indian population, the case may go well beyond what a football team calls itself.
On July 8, 2015, District Court Judge Lee affirmed the decision of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board,  denying the team's summary judgment motions challenging the constitutionality of the Lanham Act and granted the Blackhorse Defendants' summary judgment motions, finding that "the evidence before the Court supports the legal conclusion that...the Redskin Marks consisted of matter that 'may disparage' a substantial composite of Native Americans." The decision does not bar the team from using the marks going forward, and the order itself is subject to further appeal. Team president Bruce Allen expressed surprise at the decision, and that a summary judgement was made by the judge based upon the evidence submitted rather than proceeding to a trial. While the team continues to have certain rights to its trademarks, it must take action to protect those rights individually. The cancellation of federal registration of the trademarks means that the government will no longer take any action against anyone else using the name or logo, such as blocking counterfeit goods from being imported into the country.
DC Metro area jurisdictions
The Council of the District of Columbia passed a resolution on November 5, 2013 stating its position that the name should be changed. In the 1990s then owner Jack Kent Cooke wanted to build a new stadium in Washington. In addition to legal and environmental requirements that delayed the project, former U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (D-Colorado) introduced legislation to require Cooke to change the name of the team before a stadium deal could be approved. In 2013, discussions of a possible move back to the District of Columbia prompted Mayor Vincent Gray to say that a name change would need to be part of the discussion. However, with the news in 2014 of a new stadium being planned, one DC Councilman, Jack Evans, stated that the name of the team "should not be a roadblock" to a move back to the District. Newly elected mayor Muriel Bowser favors a return of the team to the District, but states that a name change, which she favors, must be part of the discussion.
For many years, beginning with the departure of the Baltimore Colts, the Redskins were the only NFL team in a large area from Maryland into the southern states. This is slowly changing as Maryland NFL fans move to the Baltimore Ravens. The Executive of Prince George's County, Maryland, where the team's stadium is located, stated that if the name is offensive to any group, a change should be considered. Montgomery County, Maryland Executive Isiah Leggett stated in 2013 that he would ask the County Council to pass a similar resolution, and that he will drop "Redskins" from all of his office’s announcements and news releases. The matter was referred to the county Human Rights Commission, which found in March, 2014 that the name offensive. However, Leggett did not present a resolution to the Council, citing the need to address other issues, although maintaining his intention to do so. Maryland House Majority Whip Talmadge Branch, (D-Baltimore) and Delegate C.T. Wilson (D-La Plata) introduced a resolution in the Maryland House of Delegates urging the Washington Redskins' owners to change the team's name. While acknowledging that the resolution is not likely to pass, delegate Wilson stated it was the right thing to do at this time. In response to the bill, Rico Newman, member of the Choptico Band of the Piscataway Indian Nation, rejects any claim by the team and its supporters that the name is a "badge of honor". "It’s a term that’s been used since the late 18th century that had a single determination, and it has and always has been negative," Newman said. Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, Democrat, stated that it is time for the name to change; but the current Republican Governor Larry Hogan supports keeping the name.
Virginia fans are now the more numerous and dedicated supporters of the Redskins, and the state and local governments have used economic incentives to encourage the team's relocation of its facilities there. The Board of Supervisors of Loudoun County, Virginia, where the team is headquartered and has its training facility, passed a resolution supporting the team's right to keep the name as a business decision. Both candidates for Virginia governor declined to give their personal opinion during the 2013 campaign, but stated that it was up to the owner what to call the team. Since being elected, Governor Terry Mcauliffe has said "I don’t think the governor ought to be telling private businesses what they should do about their business." Mcaulliffe repeated the same statement in response to questions at the 2014 opening of the Redskins training camp in Richmond, adding "I want businesses here. We need to grow and diversify the economy. Voters elected me to get jobs and this team here is helping me get jobs.". McAuliffe and Snyder have met to discuss the building of a new stadium for the Redskins in Virginia. In response to the TTAB decision that the name of the team is a term disparaging to Native Americans, a number of Virginia delegates have formed a "Redskins Pride Caucus" to defend the name. The most vocal member, State Senator Chap Petersen, calls the opposition to the name "political correctness on steroids in overdrive". However, the Mayor of Richmond, Dwight C. Jones, while deferring to the team regarding the name, wonders if Snyder may be on the wrong side of history. When asked by a reporter at the 24th annual Great American Indian Exposition and Pow-Wow in Richmond about the silence of Virginia tribes on the issue compared to Native Americans across the country, one member of the Upper Mattaponi tribe said that it was in part due to a fear of backlash from Virginia politicians who are pro-Redskins. Calling for a name change might adversely effect political support for other Virginia tribal needs. In May, 2015 the Arlington County Board passed a resolution calling for the team to change a name "objectionable to many Americans, Virginians and Arlingtonians".
Public opinion polls
Despite protest and legal action from the Native American groups and scholars who support a name-change, the majority of the American public surveyed on the subject do not find the name offensive and do not advocate a change. The first national poll was done following the 1992 Super Bowl protests, The Washington Post reporting a survey in which "89 percent of those surveyed said that the name should stay." Recent national polls by the Associated Press showed continued support for retaining the name; 79 percent in April 2013 and 83 percent eight months later. 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 outside the context of the football team. In June 2014 the Rasmussen Reports asked the question: "Some Native American groups have complained that the Redskins’ name is offensive. Should the Washington Redskins change their name?", with 60% responding that the team should not change its name, 26% said it should change, and 14% had no opinion. A September 2014 poll conducted by Langer Research for ESPN found 71 percent in favor of keeping the name, and 23 percent in favor of a change. It also found that 68 percent think the name is not disrespectful of Native Americans, nineteen percent say it shows "some" disrespect, and 9 percent say it is "a lot" disrespectful. ESPN has also been informally tracking the opinion of NFL players, finding that 58 percent are in favor of keeping the name, although there is no claim of scientific validity in this figure. Among Redskins players 26 (51%) would keep the name, only 1 would change it while 24 refused to answer.
There are basic issues with the reliability of public opinion polls that overshadow their value in some 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. While aware of this bias, many polling companies continue to favor land-lines, since by law cell phone calls must be hand-dialed, prohibiting automated polling.
However, there are those that question the appropriateness of submitting minority rights to a majority decision. 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 epithet would be offensive."
A survey conduction in October 2013 using 5,913 responses to a web questionnaire found that 51% had "No Opinion" when asked the question: "Should the Washington Redskins change their team name?"; while 19% answered "Yes" and 30% answered "No". Results were different for those that identified themselves as NFL fans; with 50% in favor of keeping the name, 23% in favor of a change, and only 27% with no opinion.
An alternative method to standard opinion polls was used by the Center for Indigenous Peoples Studies at California State University, San Bernardino. A survey was conducted of 400 individuals, with 98 individuals positively identified as Native Americans, finding that 67% agreed with the statement that "Redskins" is offensive and racist. The response from non-natives was almost the opposite, with 68% responding that the name is not offensive.
DC area polls
In July 2013 The Washington Post conducted a phone survey of people living in the D.C. 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 percent of the respondents supported retention of the name, but 28% think the name should change. 82 percent said that if the name did change, they would continue to support the team. A small majority (56 percent) of those that would keep the name also thought that the word "redskin" was not an appropriate way to describe a Native American Indian. A small number of local fans who think the name should be changed are speaking publicly and taking personal actions. Some have canceled their season tickets, while others have stopped wearing anything with the name or logo to the games, or making any new purchases. One lifelong, "rabid" fan has altered the team gear he wears, covering the name and logo with patches that say "Washington" or "DC".
A poll of residents of the D.C. 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.
This is a similar result to a telephone poll conducted in the DC Metro Area sponsored by WTOP Radio; in which 61% of 604 adults responding would not change the name of the team, although about half (55%) think the name will change eventually. In the District of Columbia there was a small majority (57%) who would change the name, but in Maryland and Virginia 60% and 67%, respectively, would not. While there were questions to identify race and gender, these made little difference in the results, and no Native Americans were identified. The greatest difference was shown in groups asked to identify themselves as strong or casual fans of the team, shown by the results of 81% versus 56% in favor of keeping the name.
In a poll done by phone (both cell and land-line) in the DC area, 77% of Redskins fans would not change the name, and 55% said they would not purchase new merchandise if the name did change. However, 30% of DC area NFL fans would change the name, a higher percentage than in national surveys.
Six hundred adults from DC and suburban Maryland and Virginia were surveyed by land-line and cellphone between September 19 and 22, 2014 in a study commissioned by WUSA-TV and USA Today. Overall 65% responded they do not want the team to change its name, while 31% said they believe the time has come for the name to change. Despite the support for the team a majority (53%) say they find the word offensive in at least some context. Republicans, conservatives and whites are more likely to want the team name unchanged, but even among Democrats, liberals and African Americans, a majority want to keep the Redskins name.
New Mexico poll
In July 2014, an opinion poll conducted in New Mexico of "registered voters" found results similar to recent national polls. Seventy-one percent of respondents were for keeping the name, 18 percent for changing it, and 11 percent unsure. The pollster found "no statistical difference" by demographic factors which included Hispanic, Anglo, Native Americans, and age group. In 2010, New Mexico had the second highest percentage of Native Americans in the U.S. at 9.4 percent, only behind Alaska with 14.4 percent. Republicans were more supportive than Democrats but a majority of both supported keeping the name. The question wording was, "Should the Washington Redskins, a National Football League team, keep their name or change their name?" The sample size was 557 registered voters statewide. The poll was conducted over land lines using recordings and cell phones using interviewers, all on July 10, 2014. It is not known if registered voters have different views from non registered voters on the name issue biasing the results either way.
2004 Annenberg survey
The survey most frequently cited by opponents of change was performed in 2004 as part of the National Annenberg Election Survey. Among other questions regarding election year issues, respondents from the 48 continental U.S. states who identified themselves as being Native American 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 did not bother them, 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. 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".
At a symposium at the Washington College of Law at American University, the topic was discussed under the title "11 Reasons to Ignore the 10-Year-Old Annenberg Survey About the Washington Football Team’s Offensive Name":
- Being ten years old, the survey is of little value given the evolution of public opinion on other social issues over the same period.
- Context matters – The questions regarding the football team were only part of a longer election-year survey.
- The self-identification problem – Comparing the U.S. Census data for self-identified Native Americans with the numbers of enrolled tribal citizens, 40% of those who claim to be Native American have no support for that claim.
- Use of landlines – Only 53% of Native Americans had a land-line in 2005, so almost half of the target population was excluded from the sampling process.
- The question was poorly worded and confusing – The phrasing As a Native American, do you find that name offensive or doesn’t it bother you? has multiple issues. It is a two part question with no single answer.
- Sample size – Only 768 Native Americans were polled, which is only 0.04 percent of the population, meeting the minimal requirement to be statistically significant, but too few to justify using it as a definitive measure of Native American opinion given the issues cited above.
In addition, it was noted that even taken at face value, the poll indicates that 9 percent of Native Americans are insulted, which some argue implies that it is permissible to insult others if they are in the minority. There is also the question of the need for a survey on this issue.
Native Americans and organizations advocating change
In the 1940s the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) created a campaign to eliminate negative stereotyping of Native American people in the media. Over time, the campaign began to focus on Indian names and mascots in sports. The NCAI maintains that teams with mascots such as the Braves and the Redskins perpetuate negative stereotypes of Native American people, and demean their native traditions and rituals. The NCAI issued a new report in 2013 summarizing opposition to Indian mascots and team names generally, and the Washington Redskins in particular. In the trademark case, the TTAB placed significance on the NCAI opposition, estimating that the organization represented about 30% of the Native American population at the time the trademarks were granted, which met their criteria for a "substantial composite" of Native Americans finding the name disparaging.
The following groups have passed resolutions or issued statements regarding their opposition to the name of the Washington NFL team:
- Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians
- Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma
- Comanche Nation of Oklahoma
- The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation (Washington)
- Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians (Michigan)
- Hoh Indian Tribe
- Inter Tribal Council of Arizona
- Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes
- Juaneño Band of Mission Indians (California)
- Little River Band of Ottawa Indians (Michigan)
- Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, Gun Lake Tribe (Michigan)
- Menominee Tribe of Indians (Wisconsin)
- Oneida Indian Nation (New York)
- Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin
- Osage Nation
- Navajo Nation Council
- Penobscot Nation
- Poarch Band of Creek Indians
- Samish Indian Nation (Washington)
- Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians (Michigan)
- Shoshone-Bannock Tribes (Idaho)
- Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (North Dakota)
- The Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation (North Dakota)
- United South and Eastern Tribes (USET)
- Advocates for American Indian Children (California)
- American Indian Mental Health Association (Minnesota)
- American Indian Movement
- American Indian Opportunities Industrialization Center of San Bernardino County
- American Indian Student Services at the Ohio State University
- American Indian High Education Consortium
- American Indian College Fund
- Americans for Indian Opportunity
- Association on American Indian Affairs
- Buncombe County Native American Inter-tribal Association (North Carolina)
- Capitol Area Indian Resources (Sacramento, CA)
- Concerned American Indian Parents (Minnesota)
- Council for Indigenous North Americans (University of Southern Maine)
- Eagle and Condor Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance
- First Peoples Worldwide
- Fontana Native American Indian Center, Inc. (California)
- Governor’s Interstate Indian Council
- Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission
- Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council (Wisconsin)
- HONOR – Honor Our Neighbors Origins and Rights
- Kansas Association for Native American Education
- Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs
- Medicine Wheel Inter-tribal Association (Louisiana)
- Minnesota Indian Education Association
- National Congress of American Indians (NCAI)
- National Indian Child Welfare Association
- National Indian Education Association
- National Indian Youth Council
- National Native American Law Student Association
- Native American Caucus of the California Democratic Party
- Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA)
- Native American Journalists Association
- Native American Indian Center of Central Ohio
- Native American Journalists Association
- Native American Rights Fund (NARF)
- Native Voice Network
- Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs
- Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi (Michigan)
- Not Your Mascots, Inc.
- North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs
- North Dakota Indian Education Association
- Office of Native American Ministry, Diocese of Grand Rapids (Michigan)
- Ohio Center for Native American Affairs
- San Bernardino/Riverside Counties Native American Community Council
- Seminole Nation of Oklahoma
- Society of Indian Psychologists of the Americas
- Southern California Indian Center
- St. Cloud State University – American Indian Center
- Tennessee Chapter of the National Coalition for the Preservation of Indigenous Cultures
- Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs
- Tennessee Native Veterans Society
- Tulsa Indian Coalition Against Racism
- The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation
- Unified Coalition for American Indian Concerns, Virginia
- The United Indian Nations of Oklahoma
- Virginia American Indian Cultural Resource Center
- Wisconsin Indian Education Association
- WIEA "Indian" Mascot and Logo Taskforce (Wisconsin)
- Woodland Indian Community Center-Lansing (Michigan)
- Youth "Indian" Mascot and Logo Task force (Wisconsin)
These Native Americans have put their opposition to the Redskins' name on the public record:
- Sherman Alexie (Spokane, author): "Most, you know, at least half the country thinks the mascot issue is insignificant. But I think it's indicative of the ways in which Indians have no cultural power."
- Bruce Anderson (Coquille people): "I challenge [owner Dan Snyder] to focus on winning ... but also an opportunity for me to simply sit with my grandchildren to watch my former team without having to cut through the racial stereotypes."
- Irene Bedard (Inupiat, Inuit and Métis, actress): She's really upset about some of the costumes the cheerleaders have worn through the years -- calling them over sexualized and "degrading" to proud Native American women like herself.
- Notah Begay (Navajo, PGA pro golfer) called the Redskins' name "a very clear example of institutionalized degradation of an ethnic minority."
- Clyde Bellecourt (Ojibwe, co-founder of the American Indian Movement)
- Bob Burns (Blackfeet elder)
- Ben Nighthorse Campbell (Northern Cheyenne, U.S. Senator)
- Gregg Deal (Paiute Tribe of Pyramid Lake, artist/activist, and DC Area resident): "People aren’t just emboldened by their team to treat poorly those of us that would oppose such "honor." They are actually empowered in being aggressive to the point of assault, verbal or physical, threatened or made good. I live in a world where I must coach my children not to talk about such things publicly in school because a classmate may come at them, or even a teacher. The threat of aggression because of who we are is real and enabled by the Washington Redskins. That is not a complaint; that is the truth."
- Vine Deloria, Jr. (Sioux, historian/author)
- Jim Enote (Zuni), director of the A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center in New Mexico
- Louise Erdrich (Chippewa, novelist/poet) - "It’s more than a stereotype, it’s an insult, and they don’t have to perpetuate it."
- Claudia Fox Tree (Arawak, teacher) - "It’s part of a much larger issue in that those sort of depictions are our only representation in modern America. It isn’t just the sin of stereotypes and misinformation, it’s the sin of absence – of not seeing yourself or the people you come from anywhere, of not seeing any contemporary images."
- Kevin Gover (Pawnee, director of The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian)
- Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne/Hodulgee Muscogee, author/activist)
- Tara Houska (Ojibwe/Couchiching First Nation, attorney/activist) 
- Bronson Koenig (Ho-Chunk Nation, Wisconsin Badgers guard)
- Litefoot (Cherokee/Chichimeca, rapper) ironically celebrates Native American team names as "recreational genocide" on the track 'Stereotipik'.
- Dana Lone Hill (Oglala Lakota Sioux, writer): The refusal to rename the Redskins is far worse than Donald Sterling's racist remarks.
- Russell Means (Oglala Lakota, activist/actor)
- Billy Mills (Sioux, Olympic gold medal winner)
- Ted Nolan (First Nations Ojibway, NHL player and coach)
- Oklahoma businessman Ryan Red Corn (Osage): Dan Snyder is an "idiot" for keeping the name.
- Buford Rolin (Creek tribal chairman)
- Gyasi Ross (Blackfeet Nation/Suquamish Territories, author/attorney): Regarding team supporters citing larger issue faced by Native Americans than a team name, "Native people shouldn't be forced to choose between living or racial discrimination. Those are false binaries."
- Shoni Schimmel (Umatilla, Louisville Cardinals guard, class of 2015)
- Charlene Teters (Spokane, artist/lecturer)
- Summer Wesley (Choctaw attorney, writer, and activist)
- W. Richard West Jr. (Cheyenne, President of the Autry National Center in Los Angeles): Redskin is "an openly derogatory term. It always is and it always has been." West also characterizes the Original American's Foundation as an "attempt to divert attention from the fact that his team’s nickname is coming under increasing heat from people who think it’s an offensive racial term."
- Ray Young Bear (Meskwaki, author)
Editorial policies regarding use of the name
The Associated Press (AP) stylebook review committee is considering whether Redskins is an offensive term that should be removed from its stories. Major news organizations continue to use the Redskins name; however, 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 (September 24, 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 (October 18, 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 (October 30, 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?
- The Syracuse New Times (October 30, 2013)
- Orange County Register (November 7, 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."
- The Seattle Times (June 18, 2014) 
- The Detroit News (June 25, 2014) 
- The Washington Business Journal (August 1, 2014) 
- The New York Daily News (September 3, 2014) will stop using both the name and the logo in its reporting.
- The Charlotte Observer (September 7, 2014) will stop using the name unless reporting on the controversy.
These publications, while continuing to print the name, have published editorials advocating a change:
- The Utica Observer-Dispatch (September 17, 2013) 
- Las Cruces Sun-News (New Mexico) (October 12, 2013)
- The Denver Post (October 26, 2013) 
- Brainerd Dispatch (Minnesota) (October 28, 2013)
- The Chicago Tribune (November 30, 2013) : The owner should acknowledge the trend toward the elimination of Indian mascots and let the fans choose a new name.
- The Frederick News-Post (Maryland) (December 28, 2013) 
- The Los Angeles Times (May 25, 2014) 
The Washington Post is the oldest and largest newspaper in the team's hometown. The Post first published an editorial in opposition to the name in 1992, saying it "is really pretty offensive." An editorial on July 28, 2014 took note of the increasing number of individual and organizations advocating a change: "Every new objection to the use of the word makes it harder for Mr. Snyder to kid himself that he’s helping his team or its fans by holding onto a name that, at bottom, is a racial slur with no place in civilized society." 
On August 22, 2014 The Post took the additional step of stating that the name will no longer be used in editorials, although it will continue to appear in other sections of the newspaper: "Unlike our colleagues who cover sports and other news, we on the editorial board have the luxury of writing about the world as we would like it to be." In addition, there are several writers/columnists for The Post (see section below) that have taken a personal stand in opposition to the continued use of the name.
- DCist (February 11, 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 (August 8, 2013) stated, "This is the last Slate article that will refer to the Washington NFL team as the Redskins."
- Sports Grid (September 17, 2013)
- The Capital News Service (October 31, 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."
- The District Sports Page, on the inevitability of the name change: "As long as this issue remains in the public conscience, the Redskins will be compelled to address it. As I said, however, they have yet to find an adequate defense for keeping the name. How much longer can they keep up the charade?"
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. Both the NFL and CBS Sports state that it is entirely up to individual announcers whether they use the name when covering a game.
While not banning Redskins for it broadcasts, National Public Radio (NPR) has advised against the use of the name, stating: "As a responsible broadcaster, NPR has always set a high bar on use of language that may be offensive to our audience. Use of such language on the air has been strictly limited to situations where it is absolutely integral to the meaning and spirit of the story being told."  The NPR ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos states that the new guideline will likely result in the name rarely being used again on NPR. At the beginning of the 2014 season, several networks report that the number of times "Redskins" was spoken during televised NFL game broadcasts has fallen 42% in 10 weeks compared to the same 10 week period in the previous year, while the use of "Washington" is up 10%. An analysis of the entire 2014 regular season shows a 27% decline in the use of the name in NFL broadcasts compared to the prior year.
- Dr. John Carlos, addressing the owner's response to protests: "To this day, there has been no real negotiation or real listening and understanding that I know of."
- Paul Kendrick, author of two books on the history of race relations and lifelong Redskins fan, writes about his realization that the name should change: "Often social progress happens in America when people get beyond an abstract idea and talk with the neighbors and friends who are actually affected. That rarely happens on this issue since too few of us interact with people we recognize as Native Americans on a daily basis."
- Ralph Nader: While advocating a name change, states that this should not be a substitute for addressing the deeper problems faced by Native Americans.
- Stephen Pevar, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU: "Our society continues to evolve. Many words that were in common usage decades ago have been relegated to the garbage heap because they are recognized today as demeaning and derogatory. [...] The team has a proud history and dedicated fans. Hopefully the team will soon adopt a name that isn't racially derogatory."
- 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.
- Jordan Wright, granddaughter of the original owner of the team, George Preston Marshall: "They need to change the name. In this day and age, it's just not right."
Advocates in sports for changing the name
- Bruce Anderson is a member of the Coquille people who played for the Washington team in 1970. He faults the name and logo as perpetuation stereotypes such as thinking all tribes have a single identity; and by making that identity a commercial brand, something that is not done with regard to any other ethnic group.
- Champ Bailey, a former Redskins cornerback, said that "When you hear a Native American say that 'Redskins' is degrading, it's almost like the N-word for a black person. If they feel that way, then it's not right. They are part of this country. It's degrading to a certain race. Does it make sense to have the name?"
- Joey Browner, who says he is three-fourths indigenous, is a board member of the Minneapolis-based American Indian Movement (AIM) and was involved with the November 2, 2014 rally in Minneapolis opposing the Redskins name and logo.
- Former NFL referee Mike Carey has not officiated a Washington home or away game since 2006 due to the team name. "The league respectfully honored my request not to officiate Washington," Carey said. "It happened sometime after I refereed their playoff game in 2006, I think."
- Former NFL linebacker Harry Carson
- Actor and former Redskins defensive end/linebacker Terry Crews does not think the name of a team is important enough to keep if it offends anyone.
- 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".
- Former Redskins linebacker London Fletcher stated that after learning some of the history of the term, he became "a little bit uneasy" with the name, but a short time later was seen smiling at Redskins fans at the 2014 NFL draft while announcing the teams draft pick, wearing a Redskins t-shirt.
- Former NFL linebacker Scott Fujita: "Over/under on length of time before Washington football team joins the 21st Century?"
- Former Redskins running back Calvin Hill, who played for Washington from 1976–1977: "Why do we want to use terms that make people feel bad?"
- Mike Holmgren, former team president of the Cleveland Browns, stated in an interview that the name should absolutely change.
- New York Knicks team president Phil Jackson: "The use of the name Redskins is highly offensive."
- Former Redskins offensive tackle/guard Tre' Johnson: "I definitely think the name should be changed ... it's offensive because a group of people that that moniker represents has said so." 
- Marv Kellum: "How can you have a [mascot] name like that once you know what it means?"
- Retired punter Chris Kluwe made many comments in opposition to the name, including that he would never play for the team.
- Marv Levy, former NFL coach: "...a crude word, even if not intended to insult."
- Randall McDaniel: "You can highlight the team’s history, but to be defiant and say it’s not affecting anyone is going through life with blinders on."
- Art Monk and Darrell Green, former Redskins players and Pro Football Hall of Famers, think a name change should be considered.
- Mark Murphy CEO of the Green Bay Packers and a former Redskins player: [nickname is] "derogatory to a lot of people".
- Roman Oben, former NFL offensive tackle : "Dan Snyder 'Would Make More Money' Changing the Redskins Name"
- Former Redskins guard Mark Schlereth, who played for Washington from 1989–1994: "It's a pejorative term. And it needs to change. I mean, you would never go into a conference of Native American people and walk up in front of them and refer to them as redskins." 
- Richard Sherman, a player for the Seattle Seahawks, spoke out against the Redskins name saying "he wishes the NBA's Donald Sterling controversy would have been a catalyst to reignite the conversation over Washington's controversial team name."
- Former quarterback Sonny Sixkiller (Cherokee): "Redskins name is racist to me."
- Former NFL quarterback Roger Staubach: "If that name is derogatory to the Indian nation, I say get rid of it".
- Jason Taylor, a former defensive end/outside linebacker who played for Washington in 2008: "If you look it up in the dictionary, it's an offensive term. [...] If it offends anyone, the name should be out."
- 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."
- John Wooten, former player for the Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins, expressed disappointment that the team refused his offer to mediate a face-to-face meeting with name change activists.
Advocates in sports for keeping the name
- Former Redskins offensive tackle Jordan Black, who played for Washington in 2012: "People are overly sensitive these days…the Redskins should never change their name."
- Former Redskins wide receiver Charlie Brown, when asked if the team name is comparable to slurs directed at black people replied "I don’t think there’s a race in this world that’s been through what our race has been through, so I don’t even compare it. It’s nonsense to compare it."
- Former Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs supports the name.
- Baseball author Bill James: "But I don't have ANY reason to believe that "redskins" offends all or nearly all Native Americans, and in fact I DON'T believe it."
- Brad Johnson, a former quarterback who played two seasons for Washington: "I've never thought of it as a bad term. ... I hope it works itself out. I would hate for them to change it."
- Former Redskins quarterback Billy Kilmer: "Everybody's got to be so politically correct today. ... I think it's all politically connected and I think it's festered by liberals against (Redskins owner) Dan Snyder, who's a conservative."
- Former Redskins wide receiver Josh Morgan, who was also born in D.C.: "All I know is the Redskins, so I'm glad we're not going ever to change the name."
- Former Redskins quarterback Jay Schroeder: "I think it's been blown way out of proportion ..."
- Former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann says he was proud to be a Washington Redskin, and there was never any discussion of the name during his years as a player.
Native American supporters of the name
- A brother and sister in Oneida, NY state they are both Native American (Mohawk) and ardent Redskins fans.
- Three Virginia Indian leaders say they are not offended by the name Redskins, but are more concerned about other issues such as the lack of Federal recognition for any Virginia tribe.
- Robert "Two Eagles" Green, retired chief of the Fredericksburg area Patawomeck Tribe, stated on a radio talk show he’d be offended if the team does change its name.
- In an article in The American Spectator, the current chief of the Patawomeck Tribe, John Lightner, states that while he is not offended by the current name, he would support changing the team to the Washington Potomacs.
Other opinions in sports
- DeAngelo Hall's response to a question during a live interview was initially interpreted as his being in favor of the team name change, but later said that he was caught off-guard. He then said he sees both sides to the argument but he and his teammates defer to the team's management on the issue.
- Former Redskins players Joe Jacoby and Doug Williams (currently Director of Player Personnel for the Redskins) both declined to comment on the name, Williams saying "I don't think as a player we should weigh heavily in."
- The owner of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones, has opined that there are two sides that need to be looked at.
- The owner of three other major professional Washington teams, Ted Leonsis (who owns the Wizards, Mystics and Capitals), states that the owner of the Redskins should make his own decision.
- The first black player for the Redskins, Bobby Mitchell, expresses ambivalence stating that although retaining a personal attachment, "as a black man, I understand what the Indians are saying. I understand. So, I don't know how this will work out."
- Although DeMaurice Smith, the NFL Players Association's executive director, has acknowledged that the team name is a slur and implies that it should be changed, the union has not issued any statement on the issue.
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. However, one Native American journalist has observed that in the era of social media, not using the name is counter-productive since the team and its supporters will not know about opposing views in online articles or tweets that do not include the name of the team in a form that can be identified by search engines.
- James Arcellana, (SB Nation, Bay Area): "Much like pop culture has desensitized Americans to violence, it has also desensitized Americans to the blatant disrespect that still takes place on playing fields today through the use of these mascots."
- Tim Baffoe, (CBS Chicago): "For my small part, I feel that refusing to endorse the team name by using it in print will add to the slowly growing movement of writers who understand the absurdity in 2013 of using a racial epithet in sports."
- Jarrett Bell, (USA Today): "Redskins have a history of bigotry." 
- Matthew Berry (ESPN) on why, after four decades as a fan of the team, he now say Washington rather than the name: "The name doesn't bother me. Hearing it doesn't cause me angst or pain or dredge up any personal history. You know why? Because I'm not Native American."
- Terry Bradshaw, (Fox NFL Sunday) in and interview with Larry King, agreed that it is just a name, so if it offends anyone, change it.
- Christine Brennan, (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."
- James Brown (CBS Sports) - Now says "Do the right thing": change the name. With regard to the intent of the owner and fans: "One can be sincere in how they use it, but sincerely wrong in understanding that it is offensive."
- Howard Bryant (ESPN): "Washington owner Daniel Snyder and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell continue to ignore history when they say they are fighting the pressure to change the name "Redskins" because they honor the heritage of the Native people. [...] There is no honor in the story, though." 
- Cris Collinsworth: "Redskins’ no longer works"
- Bob Costas, (NBC Sports): Redskins’ name was "undeniably" a slur. He also states that opposition to the name is not "political correctness run amok" given the definitions of redskin in modern dictionaries as offensive, unlike any other word associated with Native Americans such as Chiefs or Warriors.
- Lindsay Czarniak, (ESPN), while a fan of the team who grew up in Fairfax County, VA she now says "I prefer not to use the name".
- Frank Deford (NPR) suggests that everyone start calling the Washington team anything they want, as long it is not the Redskins.
- Ty Duffy, (USA Today) 
- Danny Dundalk, (Baltimore Post-Examiner): "It isn’t often you have the opportunity to witness factors coming together to rapidly bring about a positive change... The controversy over the name of the Washington Redskins has escalated to the point where we could actually see a name change."
- Tony Dungy, former NFL coach and current NBC analyst: "A couple of weeks ago, someone asked Dungy in the NBC viewing room when the name should change. 'Fifteen years ago,' Dungy said." He also says he will no longer use the name on-air.
- 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.
- Mike Francesa, (WFAN)
- Mike Freeman, (Bleacher Report), Marylander and lifelong Redskins fan: "I was arrogant in my belief there wasn't a single bigoted bone in my body, while unaware I loved a team that racially insulted a people." 
- Christopher L. Gasper (The Boston Globe): "There is a line between tradition and exploitation, between personal offense and institutionalized insensitivity, between capitulating to political correctness and doing what’s right. The Washington Redskins and their obstinate owner, Daniel Snyder, are on the wrong side of that line."
- Bob Glauber, (Newsday)
- LZ Granderson, (ESPN)
- Tim Graham, (The Buffalo News): "The R-word should not tumble from our mouths so effortlessly, so thoughtlessly."
- Dan Graziano, (ESPN): "The word "Redskin" has a well-established history as a racist epithet, and such words have no business being sung and chanted in support of a professional sports team."
- Greg Gumbel, (CBS) has not used the name on-air for three years.
- Robert Harding, (The Citizen, Auburn, NY): "Some might call it political correctness. But I call it respect. Let's avoid racist and sexist jokes. Let's not bully or harass the vulnerable. Let's not use hateful language that might not be offensive to most, but hurts some."
- Sally Jenkins, (Washington Post): "It’s time the grown-ups talk sense into Daniel Snyder" However, in response to the TTAB decision to cancel the team's trademark, Jenkins stated her opposition to government action on the issue, citing concern over freedom of speech implications of the decision.
- Roxanne Jones, (ESPN)
- Peter King, (Sports Illustrated): "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.
- Matt Miller, the lead NFL and NFL Draft analyst for Bleacher Report, stopped using the team name ‘Redskins’ in his writing — in reference to the Washington Redskins — a year ago, but says people are just now noticing.
- Phil Mushnick, (New York 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.
- Keith Olbermann (ESPN2), calls the term Redskin "the last racist term you can say at the office without getting fired".
- Bud Poliquin (The Post-Standard, Sycacuse, NY): "If it's true that prejudice is the divine right of fools, those who run that professional football team down in the nation's capital should wear jesters' garb."
- Mark Purdy, (San Jose Mercury News): "How pathetic that in the year 2013, the National Football League, which is so marketing-slick and public-relations-obsessive, allows Washington's team a continuing pass on this easily corrected issue."
- Molly Qerim, (ESPN): “We have a team called the ‘Redskins’ in 2015, it’s unbelievable.”
- William C. Rhoden, (New York Times), compares Redskins owner Dan Snyder to former Governor George C. Wallace of Alabama, both being on the wrong side of history.
- Lisa Salters, (ESPN) will only refer to the team as Washington.
- Brad Sham, announcer for the Dallas Cowboys, tries to avoid using the name.
- Phil Simms, (CBS Lead Analyst): Says he is sensitive to the complaints about the name, and his instincts now are to refer to the team only as "Washington".
- John Smallwood, (Philadelphia Daily News): "I no longer will consciously used the official name of the NFL team in Washington"
- Stephen A. Smith, (ESPN): "The problem is the Native Americans have stood up and said, ‘It’s offensive to us,’ and you essentially said you don’t particularly care."
- Rick Snyder, (The Washington Examiner): "The time will come for a change to the 'Redskins' name." 
- Stephen Sonneveld, (Bleacher Report)
- Michael Wilbon, (ESPN)
- Mike Wise, (The Washington Post), has been a long-time critic of the name.
- Steve Wulf, (ESPN)
- Clinton Yates, (The Washington Post)
- Dave Zirin, (The Nation)
- Ruben Castaneda, (Baltimore Post-Examiner) notes both the team's racist past and the behavior of the current owner; quoting former Redskins running back John Riggins as saying in an interview that "Snyder’s a 'bad guy' with a 'dark heart.'"
- Jeff Bercovici, (Forbes): "For Redskins, Name Change Is A Question Of When, Not If"
- Maureen Dowd, (The New York Times)
- Gwen Ifill, (PBS): "I don’t use the name anymore, because I think it’s unnecessarily offense, and what’s the point?"
- Larry King: "If it offends enough of a group of people, what’s the big deal? It’s just a name."
- Charles Krauthammer, political columnist, wrote that unlike other examples of "the language police" he dislikes, use of the term redskins has become a pejorative and that the name should be changed.
- Rachel Maddow, (MSNBC)
- Dana Milbank, (The Washington Post)
- Robert McCartney, (The Washington Post)
- Cortland Milloy, (The Washington Post)
- Mark Naymik, (Northeast Ohio Media Group)
- Tony Norman, (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
- Soledad O’Brien
- Clarence Page, whose opposition to the name goes back to 1988, (The Chicago Tribune): "It is only a matter of how long public attitudes and generational viewpoints change to where even Snyder’s players, fans or fellow NFL owners think it’s time to give this R-word a rest."
- Leonard Pitts Jr., (The Miami Herald): "‘Redskins’ is an offensive word, period."
- 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."
- Bill Plaschke, (Los Angeles Times): "'Redskins' is no honor, it's an insult."
- Cokie Roberts, (NPR, ABC): "[Similar names] would be absolutely unacceptable. And if people who are Native American are offended by it, we should pay attention to that. " 
- Eugene Robinson, (The Washington Post): "The term ... is a racial slur. Fans of the team, including me, have pretended not to notice this uncomfortable fact for many years. Now we’re beginning to confront it."
- Scott Simon, (National Public Radio): "I try to avoid saying name of DC's football team on air--as I try to avoid all ethnic slurs."
- Michael Tomasky, (The Daily Beast)
- Jim Vance, (NBC4) in Washington, DC comments on racism towards any other minority not being tolerated, using the example of Jeremy Lin.
- DeWayne Wickham, (USA Today): "Redskins' Snyder no misguided good guy"
- Juan Williams, (Fox News): If the team gets a new name its gotta be good.
- Michael Paul Williams, (Richmond Times-Dispatch): "If any professional sports team were nicknamed the Darkies, we wouldn’t be having a debate over its propriety."
- Eric Zorn, (Chicago Tribune)
Support for the name in the media
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".
In 2005, Marc Fisher wrote that the issue of Native American sports team names was not clear-cut given the support for some teams by native leaders. "Most people simultaneously cherish history and want to do the right thing", which for Fisher explained the results of the 2002 poll supporting the Washington Redskins name.
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 titled "Let's Bust Those Chops: Native Americans have every reason to object to the way they're caricatured by teams.")
Pat Buchanan states that the image of the Native American represents "toughness, bravery and perseverance". 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. Similar opinions emphasizing the view that the entire controversy is a liberal invention were stated in National Review by Rich Lowry and Dennis Prager; and by Rush Limbaugh on his radio broadcast. In response to the cancellation of the Redskins' trademarks by the Trademark Trial and Appeals Board, commentator Glenn Beck said "This isn't America anymore." Mike Ditka, in an interview with Limbaugh, said "It's all the political correct idiots in America. That's all it is."
After the TTAB decision, Chris Cooley and Steve Czaban ridiculed the decision and the name change effort on their ESPN980 radio program. The station is operated by Red Zebra Broadcasting in which Daniel Snyder is the primary investor.
In popular culture
The name controversy was parodied in the South Park episode "Go Fund Yourself", in which the boys name their company the Washington Redskins when they discover that the NFL team does not have a trademark to the name.
On September 25, 2014 The Daily Show aired a segment in which a group of Native Americans and a group of Redskins fans were alternately interviewed by Jason Jones on the topic of changing the name. Only a small part of the exchange between the two groups was aired, which had been previously reported as confrontational. The Redskins fans stated that they had been misled by the show's producers since they did not know they would meet with Native Americans. One of the fans later reported to the police that she felt she had been exposed to a hostile environment, although the police responded that no crime had been committed. Only hours before the airing of the show, Virginia Delegate Chap Petersen, acting as their attorney, attempted to revoke the Redskins fans' consent to appear on the show by sending a letter to one of the producers, Matt Polidoro. Also cut from the show was the footage in which Redskins fans jeered, mocked, and threatened the Native Americans when they accompanied Jones to a tailgate party at FedEx field.
A previous reference to the Redskins controversy also occurred on Comedy Central when a segment of The Colbert Report attempted to satirize the establishment of the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation by proposing a foundation called the "Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever". The resulting campaign to "CancelColbert" by Asian Americans overshadowed the initial response from Native Americans opposed to the Redskins foundation.
Comedian Lewis Black, who is a football fan born in the Maryland suburbs of DC, states "I’ve watched my team just disintegrate. Year after year, [Dan Snyder] finds a new way to make it insane. Since [he] thinks the name should be kept, that’s reason enough to change it." Other opinions from entertainers include Chris Rock, Denzel Washington, and Jonathan Banks who also advocate change; while Matthew McConaughey and Alex Trebek, both long-time fans of the team, do not want the name to change. On July 14, 2015, on Trebek's game-show Jeopardy!, one of the clues was "Many believe this NFL team name should be changed, & with it the song 'Hail To' them" (correct response: "Who are the Redskins?").
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- Change the Mascot, a national campaign launched by the Oneida Indian Nation
- American Indian Sports Team Mascots