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President Obama Stays Mum On "Redskins" At White House Tribal Nations Conference

9:09 PM, Nov 13, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- The voices against Washington's football team name are growing louder.

Native Americans spoke out against the team name at the White House Tribal Nation's Conference. "It's an ugly word," says Gary Pratt chairman of the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma.

Outside the Interior Department, where the Obama administration was meeting with hundreds of tribal leaders, there was plenty of anger. "It's stereotypical. It's disparaging. It's racist." says Gregg Deal, a Paiute, who was protesting in front of the conference. 

"I look at it on how its going to effect that six-year-old, that eight- year-old kid growing up when he's called that name," says Pratt. "Is that going to have an effect on him for the rest of his life? Yes it is."

The Oneida Indian Nation, which has been leading the campaign to force a name change, presented the President with a jersey from Cooperstown High School, which changed it's name from the R word to the Hawkeyes.

The President said last month that if he owned the team, he'd think about changing the name. But he said nothing at Wednesday's conference.

Not that opinion is unanimous in Indian Country. Chief Walter Redhawk Brown is a Nottoway, one of the Virginia tribes struggling for federal recognition. And he embraces the Washington name. "Of course it's an honor."

ChangetheNameNow.org published videos from Native Americans demanding a change. "We are human beings, change the name. Change the name! Change the name!!!" they say in the videos collected and put together by activist Gregg Deal. 

The National Congress of American Indians launched an ad offering team names and mascots that are unquestionably offensive.

So what's the alternative? "The term "warrior," the term "chief," are honorary positions with the tribe, and I'm ok with that," says Pratt.

WUSA9 spoke to a tribal leader outside the conference who said he has no problem with the team name but he declined to give his name.

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