After Sterling, NY lawmakers stand with Oneida Indian Nation call to ban R-word from NFL

By: Michelle Breidenbach

ray halbritterRay Halbritter, National Representative of the Oneida Indian Nation, gestures as he speaks during the Oneida Indian Nation’s Change the Mascot symposium, Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Washington, calling for the Washington Redskins NFL football team to change its name. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

UPDATE: Sen. David Valesky, D-Oneida, has added his name to the list of New York state lawmakers who stand with the Oneida Indian Nation against the Washington Redskins.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Albany lawmakers will join Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter tomorrow to call on professional sports teams to stop using dictionary-defined racial slurs as mascots, according to a press release from the Oneida Nation.

Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, chairman of the State-Native American Relations Committee; Assemblyman Karim Camara, D-Brooklyn, chairman of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus; Sen. Joe Griffo, R-Rome and Assemblyman Keith Wright, D-Manhattan, are expected to attend a 12:30 p.m. Tuesday press conference in the Capitol.

Their comments follow the NBA’s decision to ban Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for his offensive comments about African Americans.

The Oneida Indian Nation has taken on a national campaign to ban offensive mascots, including the Washington Redskins (which they call the R-word in the press release.)

Members of Congress have already called for the team to change its name.

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., chairwoman of the Indian Affairs Committee, and Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., a member of the House Native American Caucus, sent a letter earlier this year urging the National Football League to help stop the use of a name considered a racial slur by many American Indians.

Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, last week was drawn into the debate about the team’s name. In the context of the Sterling decision, McCain was asked about the Redskins and he said he would have a dialog about it if he were the team’s owner.

Redskins owner Dan Snyder has called the name “a badge of honor” and said it won’t be changed.