The American Indian Oneida Nation tribe in upstate New York said Thursday that it's launching a radio ad campaign urging the Washington Redskins to change their name because members of the tribe "do not deserve to be called redskins."
The ads will first run in Washington D.C. before the team kicks off its regular season at home against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 9, according to an Associated Press report. The campaign, which cost "multiple thousands" according to the Oneida nation, will continue to run on radio stations in cities that host the Redskins for games when they are on the road and will also be featured in Washington D.C. area stations throughout the NFL season.
Oneida Nation representative Ray Halbritter called upon NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to "stand up to bigotry," and called the Redskins moniker a "racial slur," saying in the ad that the Nation deserves better treatment:
''We do not deserve to be called redskins. We deserve to be treated as what we are - Americans.''
This past spring, members of congress sent letters to Goodell and Redskins owner Dan Snyder asking them to change the name. Pro Hall of Famers Art Monk and Darrell Green, who played for the Redskins, have said the team should consider a name change. Monk said if members of the tribe feel it's offensive, those who are not part of the tribe don't have a place in saying it is not offensive.
Snyder said the team will "never" change the name and that Redskins fans understand the tradition. League spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an e-mail to the AP that the league recognizes and respects that reasonable people may have differing views, adding that the Redskins name intends to be positive:
"The name from its origin has always intended to be positive and has always been used by the team in a highly respectful manner."
In May, the Oneida Nation presented a check for $10,000 to an upstate New York high school as part of an agreement between the two sides that the school would change its name from the Redskins to the Hawkeyes.
Halbritter said he believes the NFL is capable of understanding the "error" and hopes the league will make the change:
"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."BURKE: Geno Smith named starting QB for Jets