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September 12, 2013

Criticism of Redskins nickname grows

Tribe launches radio ad against 'racial slur'

In April, Cooperstown Central School voted to change its moniker from Redskins, prompting a wave of headlines about the use of the term in the National Football League.

In May, after the decision was made, Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter presented a $10,000 check to the district for new athletic uniforms. Halbritter praised the students who pushed to oust the district’s longtime nickname by calling their efforts “thoughtful,” “inclusive,” “courteous” and “respectful.”

The Oneidas have been vocal opponents of the Redskins nickname in the NFL and for high school teams. Now, the American Indian tribe has launched a radio ad campaign pressing for the Washington Redskins to shed their name that is often criticized as offensive.

The first ad was scheduled to air on radio stations in Washington before the team’s season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night. In the ad, Halbritter says NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should “stand up to bigotry” by denouncing “the racial slur” in the team’s name.

“We do not deserve to be called redskins,” the Oneida leader says in the ad. “We deserve to be treated as what we are, Americans.”

In the initial spots, National Football League’s Commissioner Roger Goodell is praised for recently condemning Eagles’ player Riley Cooper’s use of a racial slur. The ad then asks Goodell to do the right thing and join the campaign to stop the Washington team from using Redskins as a mascot and team name.

The ads launched as Washington faces a fresh barrage of criticism over their nickname, with local leaders and pundits calling for a name change. In May, 10 members of Congress sent letters to Redskins owner Dan Snyder and Goodell urging the team to change the name.

Snyder has vowed to never change the name.

League spokesman Brian McCarthy, in an email to The Associated Press, said they “respect that reasonable people may have differing views.”

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