Oneida Indian Nation Responds to Attempts by Washington’s NFL Team to Discredit its Leadership over Opposition to the R-Word


The Oneida Indian Nation responded today to a report suggesting that  Washington’s NFL team and its supporters have attempted to discredit opponents  of their offensive mascot only to be told by other Native American leaders that  the name should change.  Ray Halbritter, Oneida Indian Nation Representative and  the leader of the Change  the Mascot movement, has come under personal attack for publicly urging the  team to drop a name which is a dictionary-defined racial slur.

“In his desire to defend a name given to his team by an avowed  segregationist, Dan Snyder can continue to try to attack me personally, but his  strategy will not work because this is far bigger and more important than any  one person or group,” Halbritter said. “This is an issue that underscores what  it means to treat people with respect and to stop causing them pain rather than  continuing to insult them with a racist epithet. This is a serious moral, human  rights and civil rights issue – and the team’s behavior continues to have  serious negative consequences for Native Americans,” Halbritter added.

Sid Hill, the spiritual leader of the Six Nations, recently received a call  from a representative of the Washington team which “felt like they were looking  for something, that they wanted me to discredit Ray, and I wasn’t going to go  there.”  Hill said: “The backlash Ray’s received is kind of scary…it’s like  they’re trying to discredit the witness.”*

In an interview with a journalist from The Syracuse Post-Standard, Hill underscored his view that  the R–word does not honor Native Americans, as the team has claimed.  The term,  he said, is a taunt and an insult that if directed toward a Native American on  their territory would be seen by the target of the slur as an attempt to inflict  hurt.*

“It is hardly surprising that the team marketing a racial slur against Native  Americans is evidently working to further denigrate Native Americans with  personal attacks,” said Oneida Indian Nation Vice President for Communications  Joel Barkin. “For all their rhetoric about respect, the team officials’ ugly  tactics prove that they lack real respect for Native Americans.”

*At Onondaga, spiritual leader of the Six Nations agrees: Time for Washington  to retire ‘Redskins’, 3/16/14,

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