Oneida Indian Nation Responds to President Obama's Historic Comments About Washington's NFL Team Name

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The President’s comments come just two days before the Indian Nation will convene a "Change the Mascot" symposium in Washington timed to coincide with the NFL’s Fall Meeting there.

As the first sitting president to speak out against the Washington team name, President Obama's comments today are truly historic.

In an interview with the Associated Press published today, President Obama spoke out about the Washington NFL team's continued use of a racial slur as its name.* The president's comments come as the Oneida Indian Nation's headline-grabbing "Change the Mascot" advertising campaign has helped fuel a national discussion on this issue, and has convinced NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to publicly say the NFL should be listening to its critics.**

"As the first sitting president to speak out against the Washington team name, President Obama's comments are truly historic," said Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter. "The use of such an offensive term has negative consequences for the Native American community when it comes to issues of self-identity and imagery. We will continue to push our cause because this is about doing right by our children, who are especially impressionable.”

“As a proud NFL sponsor, we also believe the name sends a destructive and divisive message about a league that is supposed to be a unifying force,” said Halbritter. “President Obama’s comments today add momentum to our campaign to get the NFL to urge Washington owner Daniel Snyder to change the Washington team's name. The NFL and Snyder should borrow a page from the President and use the changing of the football team's name as a teachable moment."

As part of its "Change the Mascot" campaign, the Oneida Indian Nation has been airing radio ads throughout the football season in Washington, D.C. and cities where the Washington team plays. These ads can be found at http://www.changethemascot.org.

*OBAMA OPEN TO NAME CHANGE FOR WASHINGTON REDSKINS, 10/5/13, hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_OBAMA_REDSKINS?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT
**Goodell: NFL should listen to 'Redskins' protests, 9/11/13, pro32.ap.org/article/goodell-nfl-should-listen-redskins-protests

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Joel Barkin
Oneida Indian Nation
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