The Oneida Indian Nation announced a new ad campaign today urging the Washington, D.C. National Football League team to “Change the Mascot.” This is not the first time the use of the name, “redskins,” has come under fire. Previous attempts at launching a name change have been successful in terms of raising awareness.
The ads will be broadcast on sports radio stations in the D.C. area prior to Washington’s season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. They will continue to air all season for home games and will be broadcast in other cities where the D.C. team is scheduled to play.
The Oneida Nation recently gave an upstate New York school district a check for $10,000 because the high school changed their name from Redskins to Hawkeyes. The check was presented in May by Oneida Nation representative Ray Halbritter to the Cooperstown Central School District for the purchase of new school jerseys with the new mascot on them. Hawkeye is a character from the James Fenimore Cooper novel, The Last of the Mohicans. The author was a former resident of Cooperstown.
Halbritter is featured in the radio ad, saying how the Oneida Nation is one of the NFL sponsors. As a sponsor, the concern is that continued use of the offensive name will undermine America’s values of mutual respect. Society has no place for the use of slurs and “making a mascot out of our indigenous culture.”
While the Oneida Nation is working to get the D.C. football team’s name changed, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been doing damage control over racially charged remarks made by Philadelphia Eagles team member, Riley Cooper. According to the Oneida ad, Commissioner Goodell did the right thing by condemning Cooper’s comments.
The NFL has faced more pressure than ever before about the use of names and mascots that negatively represent an entire culture. When the high school in Cooperstown changed their mascot, it made national news. At that time, congressional members asked the NFL about a name change. The Washington Hall of Fame member, Art Monk, reiterated a few weeks ago on a D.C. radio station that if certain names are offensive to Native Americans, then “who are we” to question it.
The Oneida Indian Nation is part of the Iroquois Confederacy, also known as the Iroquois League. When the United States was in its infancy, much of the Constitution, state and federal government was modeled after the Iroquois Great Council. In May 1776, a few weeks before the Declaration of Independence was signed, Iroquois leaders were invited to Philadelphia to observe the Continental Congress. John Hancock welcomed them as “brothers.”
The colonists won the American Revolution with the help of the Oneida Nation. They fought together in the Battle of Oriskany, New York. This was considered the bloodiest battle of the war as well as the turning point. Their contribution was later acknowledged by the Continental Congress, December, 1777.
The Oneida Indian Nation has set up a web page for people to listen to their ads. That information is listed below.
Written by: Cynthia Collins