After making waves last month by suggesting the Washington Redskins’ name may be offensive to Native Americans, President Obama avoided the issue entirely during a Wednesday speech to tribal leaders gathered in Washington.
In his brief remarks, the president instead touted his health care reform law, energy development on tribal lands and his administration’s efforts to reduce the above-average poverty rates seen in many tribal communities.
Mr. Obama also spoke in broad terms about the U.S. must continue to strengthen its bonds with Native Americans, stressing that they must have the same opportunities all other Americans enjoy.
“It falls to us to keep America the place where no matter where you come from, what you look like, you can always make it as long as you try as long as you work hard,” Mr. Obama said at the tribal conference, held at the Interior Department’s headquarters in Washington.
But most significant is what was absent from the president’s speech — any mention of the “Redskins” controversy.
In an interview with the Associated Press last month, Mr. Obama said that, if he owned Washington’s football team, he would consider changing the name. The name has come under increasing fire from tribal leaders and others who believe it is racially offensive. Redskins owner Daniel Snyder thus far has no shown no indication he’s willing to change the name, though he has sought to open a dialogue with Native American leaders.
At a private meeting Tuesday at the White House, Ray Halbritter, the federally recognized representative of the Oneida Indian Nation and the man leading the anti-Redskins movement, reportedly thanked the president for speaking out on the issue.