Meeting in same hotel as NFL session

Updated: October 3, 2013, 1:22 PM ET
Associated Press

VERONA, N.Y. -- An Indian tribe from upstate New York that's campaigning against the Washington Redskins' nickname said Thursday it will hold a symposium about the issue at the same Washington hotel where the NFL is holding its fall meeting.

The Oneida Indian Nation's symposium is scheduled for Monday, the day team owners start arriving for Tuesday's meeting. Tribal leader Ray Halbritter said the meeting's time and place provide a great opportunity to bring more understanding about the issue of why the Redskins name is considered offensive by many people.

[+] EnlargeRay Halbritter
AP Photo/Mike GrollRay Halbritter vows that the Oneida Indian Nation is "not going to go away" in its quest to get the "Redskins" nickname removed from the NFL. "This is not going to stop until the name is changed."

He said NFL officials would be invited to attend.

"When one of the most valuable franchises in the NFL is using a racial epithet, how do you explain that to children?" Halbritter said. "How do you explain how it makes you feel as a human being?"

There was no immediate comment from the league.

The Oneidas, who run a large casino resort in Verona in central New York, are pushing for a name change as the Redskins face fresh waves of criticism over the nickname. The tribe this season launched a radio ad campaign in the Washington market and in cities that have hosted the team, pressing the franchise to change its name.

Redskins owner Dan Snyder has vowed to never change the name.

Halbritter, who said he was a fan of the team when he was an ironworker in Washington, said the issue is important to Native Americans in New York and elsewhere because the name is degrading and has devastating effects. Before they focused on the NFL, the Oneidas earlier this year gave $10,000 toward new jerseys to the high school in Cooperstown that changed its nickname from Redskins to Hawkeyes.

The president of Cooperstown's board of education, David Borgstrom, is scheduled to attend the symposium with two students who helped lead the change. Borgstrom said he hoped his "small effort" on Monday helps the Oneidas in their ongoing campaign.

"We cannot allow the use of these cruel, injurious, hateful stereotypes to be continued," said U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota, who plans to speak to the meeting either in person or from her home district, depending on Congress' schedule.

Halbritter said symposium speakers also will include a psychological expert on the effects of discrimination on children and the director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian.

"We are not going to go away," Halbritter said. "This is not going to stop until the name is changed."


Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press

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