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October 31, 2013 Thursday
464 words
Oneidas let down by NFL meeting
Erik Brady, @ByErikBrady, USA TODAY Sports

Oneida Indian Nation representative Ray Halbritter characterized his meeting with NFL executives Wednesday afternoon as historic but ultimately disappointing.

The Oneida Nation operates an aggressive "Change the Mascot" campaign against the team name of the Washington pro football club, and several of its leaders met for about an hour with NFL officials in a building near Times Square. NFL senior executives Adolpho Birch, Jeff Pash and Paul Hicks attended; commissioner Roger Goodell and Washington team owner Daniel Snyder did not.

Halbritter said he appreciated the opportunity to meet but was "disappointed, to say it mildly," that NFL officials "continued to defend use of the slur." He said NFL officials at the meeting defended the team name on the basis of history, tradition and polling, many of the same arguments Snyder presented in a letter to his team's fans recently.

The Oneidas released a letter to Goodell that they presented at the meeting, outlining actions they believe the NFL should take:

A meeting with all 32 NFL owners during Super Bowl week.

A visit to Oneida tribal homelands in Central New York by Goodell and Washington team officials.

An amendment to NFL bylaws prohibiting use of dictionary-defined racial slurs as team names.

Action by Goodell under section 8.13 of NFL bylaws, which empowers him to move against any owner who is "guilty of conduct detrimental to the welfare" of the league. They also asked that Goodell refer Snyder to the league's executive committee for possible sanctions for using a slur detrimental to the league's image. "If the Commissioner lacks the power to act," the letter says, "we request that you say so publicly."

The letter was accompanied by additional supporting materials, including an Oneidas-commissioned report by clinical psychologist Michael Friedman that lists systemic public health consequences on native populations that Friedman says are caused by use of the team name and a list of editorial boards, civic leaders and others who oppose use of the word.

"Of course we were disappointed" that no minds were changed, Halbritter said of the meeting. "We need to redouble our efforts, and that is what we are going to do."

In a statement, the NFL said, "We listened and respectfully discussed the views of Mr. Halbritter, Oneida Nation Wolf Clan Representative Keller George and their colleagues as well as the sharply differing views of many other Native Americans and fans in general. The meeting was part of an ongoing dialogue to facilitate listening and learning, consistent with the commissioner's comments earlier this year" that the NFL should listen to its critics on the issue if even one person is offended.

Snyder has said he will never change his team's name; the NFL has said clubs determine their names.

October 31, 2013

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