Tribe launches ad against Redskins; Oneidas say NFL team's name racist
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Peninsula Daily News
Above, the Washington Redskins logo. Below, Redskins logos are seen in the Port Townsend High School gym last spring. The high school is replacing the mascot with one that is less racially charged.

ALBANY, N.Y. — A tribe in upstate New York is launching a radio ad campaign pressing for the Washington Redskins to shed a name often criticized as offensive.

The Oneida Indian Nation said the first ad will run on radio stations in Washington, D.C., before the team hosts the Philadelphia Eagles in its season opener Monday night.

In the ad, Oneida Nation's Ray Halbritter says NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should “stand up to bigotry” by denouncing “the racial slur” in the team's name.

“We do not deserve to be called redskins,” the Oneida leader says in the ad.

“We deserve to be treated as what we are: Americans.”

The radio ad said Goodell had rightly been critical this summer after an Eagles wide receiver was caught on video making a racial slur against African-Americans.

The ads launch as the Washington Redskins this year face a fresh barrage of criticism over their nickname, with local leaders and pundits calling for a name change.

In May, 10 members of Congress sent letters to Redskins owner Dan Snyder and Goodell urging the team to change the name.

Snyder has vowed to never change the name.

League spokesman Brian McCarthy, in an email to The Associated Press, said they “respect that reasonable people may have differing views.”

“The name from its origin has always intended to be positive and has always been used by the team in a highly respectful manner,” McCarthy wrote.

There was no immediate response from the Redskins.

The Oneidas have been vocal opponents of the Redskins nickname — be it for NFL or high school teams.
New jerseys

The tribe, which runs a casino and resort in central New York, this year gave $10,000 toward new jerseys to an area high school that changed its nickname from the Redskins to the Hawkeyes.

The Oneida said the first ad will run today and Monday on several stations in Washington.

Subsequent ads will run in Washington during home games and in the cities hosting the team when it is away.

A spokesman for the Oneidas would not say how much the campaign would cost beyond “multiple thousands.”

Halbritter said that fans also are being urged to lobby the NFL in support of the name change at www.changethemascot.org, a website that debuted Thursday.

“We believe that with the help of our fellow professional football fans, we can get the NFL to realize the error of its ways and make a very simple change,” Halbritter said in a prepared statement.

Port Townsend mascot

On the North Olympic Peninsula, the Port Townsend School Board voted unanimously June 24 to drop Redskins as the high school's team name, logo and mascot after nearly 90 years — despite strong opposition from some community members — and conduct a “student- and community-based process to replace it.”

Additionally, the board voted to adopt a curriculum that teaches the history of Native Americans and is meant to promote racial sensitivity.

This followed a yearlong process involving a committee that examined community response to the mascot and issued findings that the mascot had a negative effect on the district.

School Superintendent David Engle said last month that the district will begin seeking volunteers in three areas — the staff, the community and the students — to assemble and make recommendations for a new mascot for the school's athletes.

Port Townsend teams will play as the Redskins during this school year, but the coaches have been instructed that this is the time for them “to say goodbye to the mascot,” Engle said.

The school's colors — red and white with black highlights — will not change, Engle added.

Last modified: September 08. 2013 12:21AM
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