Native American Group Meets With NFL; D.C. Council Urges Washington To Change Nickname
I could have saved The Oneida Nation a lot of time and effort on Wednesday. The Native American tribe met with representatives of the NFL and the Washington football team to discuss the thorny nickname issue, asking the NFL to sanction the Redskins under the "Actions detrimental to the league" clause. And of course no one budged an inch (although the NFL termed it "part of the continuing dialogue." Because if it looks like they're talking, they don't have to actually do anything). It was basically a waste of time. That's because:
For Halloween tonight, Roger Goodell is dressing as a giant wallet. It's the only thing he really understands, and until the nickname issue begins punching him there like so many delinquent trick-or-treaters, he will not take action.
The Washington NFL team is entrenched in ideology. Daniel Snyder has a competitive sports mindset -- why else would he own an NFL team? -- and giving in now would make him look weak, akin to losing the NFL Championship Game to the Cowboys. Yes, he's that shallow and short-sighted. But like Goodell, he will not change the name until forced to do so.
Native Americans are split on the issue. Of course this shouldn't matter: as long as some tribes take the name as a slur, that should be enough. If you used the term "colored" and one of the four black people in the room looked hurt, would you stop using that term? Some Native American tribes are fine with "Redskins", just as with "Seminoles", the Cleveland Indians logo and "Land 'O Lakes" butter. This doesn't make it right. But it does give Snyder an excuse to be a jerk.
So the Oneida met with the NFL and the Washington team on Wednesday in Manhattan, which in itself is surprising, as the three factions have never sat together previously, to out knowledge. But it was "ultimately disappointing," said Oneida Indian Nation representative Ray Halbritter.
Halbritter said he appreciated the opportunity to meet but was "disappointed, to say it mildly," that NFL officials "continued to defend use of the slur." He said NFL officials at the meeting defended the team name on the basis of history, tradition and polling, many of the same arguments that Snyder presented in a letter to his team's fans recently.
These are also many of the reasons that former Redskins owner George Preston Marshall gave for not integrating the team until 1962, when he was basically forced to sign Washington's first black player.
And today The D.C. Council said that it will take up a resolution next week urging the Washington Redskins to change their name.
Some fun facts about the Oneida: they have occupied their lands in New York since before European colonization, and are one of the original Iroquoian tribes: meaning that they were reading and writing possibly before your ancestors were. And they are not to be messed with: once they sued two counties in New York for back rent on land taken from them in the 1700s. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, and the Oneida won the right to take the suit to trial, but lost the actual case.
The point is: long memories. In 50 years people will look back on this mess and wonder what the hell was the white man thinking?
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