News & Politics

Oneida Nation “Disappointed” By Meeting With NFL Over Redskins’ Name

The New York tribe’s meeting with NFL brass did not go as well as hoped.

After meeting with NFL executives about their effort to get the Washington Redskins to change their name, officials from the Oneida Indian Nation said they were “disappointed.”

“As the meeting transpired, it became evident that they were defending the continued use,” Oneida executive Ray Halbritter said at a press conference following the meeting in New York. The league sent senior executives Jeff Pash, Adolpho Birch, and Paul Hicks. The league said Commissioner Roger Goodell was traveling Wednesday, a day after he met with Washington owner Dan Snyder about the ongoing controversy surrounding the team’s name.

Halbritter said his tribe’s ongoing campaign for a name change is not meant to be antagonistic toward Snyder or the NFL, noting the Oneidas’ own sponsorship of the Buffalo Bills. “[Football] can be unifying, this name is not,” he said as a heckler tried to interrupt.

A statement from the NFL suggested the league’s participation was a continuation of Goodell’s remarks last month that the league needs to at least be open to hearing complaints from people who see Washington’s on-field nickname as a slur against Native Americans. “The meeting was part of an ongoing dialogue to facilitate listening and learning, consistent with the commissioner’s comments earlier this year,” the statement read.

But Halbritter indicated the Oneida Indian Nation will only be ramping up its campaign. He said he requested a meeting with owners of all 32 NFL teams during the week before the Super Bowl where the Oneidas intend to ask the league to sanction Snyder over his team’s name.

“Believe me, we are not going away,” he said.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.