By Ian Shapira
Flanked by several tribal chiefs, Cantwell, who is the former chair of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, condemned the team’s name as a slur against Native Americans.
“The NFL needs to join the rest of Americans in the 21st century,” she said. “It is about right and wrong.”
Cantwell made her remarks at a press conference called by a coalition of Native American and social justice groups leading the campaign against the Redskins’ name.
The group, Change the Mascot, which includes the National Congress of American Indians and the Oneida Indian Nation, is calling on the owners of the 31 other NFL teams to force fellow owner Dan Snyder to change the team’s moniker.
By Joseph White
Oneida Nation representative Ray Halbritter said he hoped an owner will take a bold position against the name. He cited Brooklyn Dodgers executive Branch Rickey, who integrated major league baseball by signing Jackie Robinson, and longtime Washington Wizards owner Abe Pollin, who changed his NBA's team from Bullets because of the violence associated with the term.
"We're looking for the Branch Rickey, looking for Abe Pollin," Halbritter said. "They're out there. We know the owners don't share in this, but they share in the profits."
Halbritter had harsh words for the league as a whole, referencing the NFL's handling of health problems suffered by former players, as well as the recent Ray Rice domestic violence saga and the child abuse charge levied against Adrian Peterson.
"The NFL is currently facing an integrity crisis. ... While these are different issues, they are joined by a common thread of showing commercial and moral arrogance and a blatant lack of respect for those being negatively impacted," Halbritter said.