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Redskins name change pushed by Congress

By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com
Redskins name change pushed by Congress
File/ UPI/Laurence Kesterson | License Photo

Members of Congress Tuesday jumped into the effort to convince Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to change the team's name away from one considered a racial epithet.

A letter to Snyder and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was posted on the website of Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, Representative from American Samoa, and signed by nine other members of Congress.

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"In this day and age, it is imperative that you uphold your moral responsibility to disavow the usage of racial slurs," the letter said, comparing "Redskins," or the "R-word" to other terms referring to racial groups such as the "N-word" or the "W-word."

"The usage of the [“R-word”] is especially harmful to Native American youth, tending to lower their sense of dignity and self-esteem," it said. "It also diminishes feelings of community worth among the Native American tribes and dampens the aspirations of their people."

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The letter was signed by Tom Cole, R-Okla., and Betty McCollum, D-Minn., the co-chairs of the Congressional Native American Caucus, Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., Gwen Moore, D-Wisc., Michael M. Honda, D-Calif., Donna M. Christensen, D-U.S. Virgin Islands, Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., Barbara Lee, D-Calif., Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., and Faleomavaega.

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The 10 members of Congress join Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, who told the team they would have to change the name if they ever hoped to move within city limits.

Some have suggested a switch to the Washington Redtails, the nickname adopted by the World War II group of African American pilots, the Tuskegee Airmen, and a hawk native to the Washington area.

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Washington, and the team, has a complicated relationship with race, going back to before the Redskins became the last NFL team to integrate in 1962.

For his part, Snyder said he has no plans to change the 'Skins name or mascot.

"We'll never change the name," he told USA Today. "It's that simple. NEVER -- you can use caps."

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