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Conference speakers join push for Washington team to change name

Washington Redskins' fans show their support during fourth quarter action at FedEx Field during the NFC Wild Card round in Landover, Maryland on January 6, 2013. Seattle won the game 24-14. UPI/Pete Marovich
Washington Redskins' fans show their support during fourth quarter action at FedEx Field during the NFC Wild Card round in Landover, Maryland on January 6, 2013. Seattle won the game 24-14. UPI/Pete Marovich | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Oct. 8 (UPI) -- Museum officials, mental-health specialists and politicians say they have joined with an American Indian tribe urging the Washington Redskins to scrap its name.

A Georgetown symposium hosted by the Oneida Indian Nation on its push to change the football team's name came just one day before NFL officials were to hold a one-day meeting less than a mile way, The Washington Post reported Monday.

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Speakers at the conference included the head of the National Museum of the American Indian, a psychologist and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C.

"As an Indian nation that values the idea of mutual respect, we only have one simple objective in all of this," said Ray Halbritter, an Oneida Indian who organized the conference. "We no longer want to be treated as targets of racial slurs. We don't want our children to be treated as targets of racial slurs. We want to be treated as what we are: Americans."

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His remarks were echoed by other speakers.

"I can think of no argument for retaining a name that directly insults Americans and especially our first Americans," said Holmes Norton.

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Kevin Gover, who heads the American Indian museum, recalled being called a "redskin" as a child. He said he doesn't understand why, like other racial slurs, the words hasn't become off limits.

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Michael Friedman, a clinical psychologist who has studied the effects of discrimination, said the name change was "a public health issue. This is not a political correctness issue."

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has said, "We'll never change the name. It's that simple, NEVER... you can use caps."

While no one from the NFL was at the conference despite being invited, Gover said that didn't mean they weren't listening.

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"Like all major industries, the NFL is very interested in its public image, and when there is a challenge to that public image, the NFL is inclined to respond," he said.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has backed off his previously rigid position about the name change, saying last month "If one person's offended, we have to listen."

A Nov. 22 meeting has now been scheduled at NFL offices between Goodell and American Indian leaders.

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