Mr. Obama recently told The Associated Press that the team should consider changing its moniker if anyone is offended. NBC Sports announcer Bob Costas denounced the Redskins name at halftime of their recent Sunday Night game with the Dallas Cowboys.
Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma is among the congressional Republicans who agree with that view and say the name carries negative connotations.
“I think it is sort of offensive,” she said.
Last week, the Oneida Nation released a poll conducted by SurveyUSA, based on 500 interviews, showing that 59 percent of Washington-area residents have “a right to feel offended by the term ‘redskin,’” and 73 percent said changing the name would either strengthen their support of the team or would have no effect on it.
The Redskins‘ leadership is fighting back. They point to an AP poll in April showing that four out of five Americans do not think the name should be changed. In an article for ESPN, sportswriter Rick Reilly cited several high schools with majority or overwhelmingly Indian student bodies that use “Redskins” as their team name.
Earlier polls have had similar results, though the movement to change the name has picked up considerable steam. Several news organizations refuse to use the Redskins‘ name in their sports coverage.
In an Oct. 9 letter to fans, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder said he is sensitive to concerns but believes the name is meant to honor, not disparage, American Indians.
“I respect the feelings of those who are offended by the team name. But I hope such individuals also try to respect what the name means, not only for all of us in the extended Washington Redskins family, but among Native Americans, too,” he wrote. “I respect the opinions of those who disagree. I want them to know that I do hear them, and I will continue to listen and learn. But we cannot ignore our 81-year history, or the strong feelings of most of our fans as well as Native Americans throughout the country. After 81 years, the team name ‘Redskins‘ continues to hold the memories and meaning of where we came from, who we are, and who we want to be in the years to come.”
The Redskins organization had no further comment Monday and referred to Mr. Snyder’s letter.