Leaders meet with the NFL about altering the moniker of the franchise.
Native Americans promised to redouble efforts to force the Washington Redskins to change their racially charged name after a first meeting with the National Football League franchise.
The campaign, ChangeTheMascot.org, has gathered pace since President Barack Obama said in an interview this month that he would favor a less offensive name for the team.
The casino-rich Oneida tribe in New York state, which is spearheading the campaign, held what it called an “unprecedented” meeting with the NFL to discuss the issue.
“The National Football League agreed to meet with us and recognize that it’s an important enough issue to discuss,” said Ray Halbritter, a representative of the Oneida Indian Nation and leader of the campaign.
“Today’s meeting was certainly a first step,” he told a news conference but admitted there was no breakthrough.
“We were somewhat disappointed, to say it mildly, that they continued to defend the use of the slur and it really does require us to redouble our efforts in dealing with this issue,” he said.
Neither NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell nor Dan Snyder, the mogul who owns the Redskins, were at the meeting.
Snyder has refused to ever change the name.
Although Goodell said in a recent interview “we have to listen” if anyone feels offended by the name, he also said the decision was up to Snyder.
“We will not be silent on this issue and it’s just not going to go away. Not this time,” Halbritter said.
Whether the Redskins should retain a name deemed “usually offensive” by the Merriam-Webster dictionary and “dated offensive” by the Oxford dictionary has been a festering issue in Washington for years.
Campaigners say the term has very real, damaging effects on children, negative consequences on mental illness and is a concern for public health.
Micheal Friedman, a clinical psychologist, has submitted research on the harmful psychological effects of the Washington football mascot.
He said using the term had real effects on the mental health of the Native American community, which already has the poorest living and health standards in the United States.
Oneida Indian Nation members are descended from the Iroquois Confederacy that dominated much of New York state and parts of Canada when Europeans first arrived.