Oneida Indian Nation invites Snyder to explain his position to Native Americans directly


As pointed out earlier today by MDS, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has written (i.e., someone who makes a lot of money per hour has written for him) a letter explaining the team’s decision to keep its name.

Snyder, whose prior remarks on the topic consisted simply of five words — “never, you can use caps” — has spent more time and care crafting a message that ultimately is the same.  He’s not changing the name.

The letter contains predictable techniques and strategies for shaping and shifting public opinion.  There’s an image of a young Daniel Snyder, beaming in pride as his father sang “Hail to the Redskins” with a smile on his face.  Likewise, the letter rattles off a string of factors pointing to keeping the name in place:  (1) the 2004 Annenberg Public Policy Center poll in which 90 percent found the name not offensive; (2) the April 2013 survey in which 79 percent said the name should not be changed; (3) the column from Paul Woody of the Richmond Times-Dispatch in which he found three leaders of Virginia Native American tribes who said the name doesn’t offend them; and (4) radio comments from Robert Green, recently retired Chief of the Fredericksburg-area Patawomeck Tribe.  (Meanwhile, Rick Reilly likely wonders why his column on the issue was omitted.  Maybe Snyder has seen Leatherheads.)

Wisely, the letter opts not to point to the many-but-ever-shrinking high schools that use the name.  Under that “some of my best friend’s schools are called Redskins” logic, the decision of enough of those schools to change the name would put the Redskins in an even more untenable situation.

Of course, the letter also omits reference to Native Americans who have spoken out against the name, including the symposium organized earlier this week in Washington by the Oneida Indian Nation.  (More on that in a bit.)

Perhaps the biggest problem with Snyder’s letter comes from the effort to pull George Allen, father of current Redskins G.M. Bruce Allen, into the debate.

“In 1971, our legendary coach, the late George Allen, consulted with the Red Cloud Athletic Fund located on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and designed our emblem on the Redskins helmets,” Snyder writes.  “Several years later, Coach Allen was honored by the Red Cloud Athletic Fund.  On the wall at our Ashburn, Virginia, offices is the plaque given to Coach Allen — a source of pride for all of us.”

Here’s the thing.  George Allen created the Red Cloud Athletic Fund.

And so Snyder makes his case for keeping the name based in part on consultations Allen had with a group he created regarding the design of the current logo.  Snyder then provides justification for the ongoing use of the name and the logo by pointing out that Allen was later honored.  By the group he created.

But if Snyder, whose letter should for now be regarded as nothing more than a belated effort to undo the damage of months of misguided P.R. efforts, really means what he says, he should accept the invitation that came from the Oneida Indian Nation to listen and learn from Native Americans who oppose the name.

“In the spirit of the dialogue that Mr. Snyder says he is willing to engage in, we are inviting him to join the NFL delegation in its upcoming meeting at our Homelands,” Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter said in a release issued in response to the letter.  “During his visit, we will organize a special meeting of Oneida Nation families where Mr. Snyder can personally explain to them why he believes they deserve to be called ‘redskins.’  He can then hear directly from them why that term is so painful.”

Here’s where it gets really simple.  If Snyder means what he (i.e., someone on his behalf) wrote in his letter, he’ll attend the meeting.  If he doesn’t mean it, he won’t attend.

34 responses to “Oneida Indian Nation invites Snyder to explain his position to Native Americans directly

  1. Here’s the thing, the NFL is a business, and Snyder is just embracing and playing the game. It’s about leverage, and he’s not going to change the names unless it’s under a set of terms that are more profitable than to simply just do the change himself and bear all that expense. He’s not going to budge until he feels he has the upper hand in getting what he wants for whatever it is that is important to him. He doesn’t need the Oneida Indian Nation to explain to him how this is offensive, he gets that, but that’s not the issue he is befuddled with from his perspective.

  2. Maybe, like in old Western Movies they smoke Peace Pipe (with some really good stuff, better than Dan’s cigars) and Dan gives them some trinkets and all is well or maybe Dan gets a haircut

  3. Good move by the Oneida Nation. Its one thing to say something from behind your desk, another to say in front of people that you offend.

  4. use the throwback unis with the spear on the helmet and change the name… braves or bullets imo.

  5. Much like an athlete who changes his name and has to buy all of his gear with his old name on it, shouldn’t the Redskins have to do the same?

  6. Good lawyering Mike. Twist the words to present your case. Snyder’s not referring to Native Americans as Redskins, he’s naming his football team the Redskins.

  7. “NFL is a business, and Snyder is just embracing and playing the game”

    Are you serious?

    If he created a dynasty since 1999 he’d have a case. His product offers little to no value! Yet somehow, because the NFL loves to showcase his team – Cowboys vs Redskins, he benefits. He’s reaping the benefits of the Redskins glory days.

  8. The NFL can and should make him change the name. They can fine a player for the wrong socks. They can make a team appear on Hard Knocks. The league can do what the league wants to do. This is on Goodell as much as it is on Snyder.

  9. It’s the name of a football team and it’s not offensive. anybody finding it offensive should have to proceed through a doctor’s care. It would be nice to find a cure for stupid.

  10. He doesn’t have time to be bothered by American Indians and their history, he has a 1-3 team with a QB battling a wounded knee.

  11. Snyder won’t pay attention until it starts costing money…. which comes mostly from the NFL via TV rights. In that vein…the Oneida Nation would be wise to lobby the TV station(s)

  12. Who cares what these guys think, they are a tribe from Wisconson, that’s a long way from Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland…Aka “Redskin Country”…tell them to go root for the Packers.

  13. I absolutely agree that Snyder should accept this offer. I think both sides need to present their view and then come to a resolution. The willingness of the Oneida Nation to talk it out and come to an understanding allows me to believe that they’re not in this for superficial reasons.

  14. The Redskins Charitable Foundation should make upgrades to football facilities on Reservations. New uniforms for teams. Clinics for Native American players. Olive branch of GREEN CASH.

  15. It is already costing Snyder millions. He should sue Peter King and said writer of this article for slander and defamation. Put that in your JD (I’ve never seen a court of law) pipe and smoke it!!! Peace pipe perhaps……..

  16. The Historical Truth That Some Don’t Want To Hear

    The 2nd coach in the franchise’s history, Lone Star Dietz

    First, the Redskins name was at least partially, and perhaps totally, conceived by their full-blooded American Indian head coach named Lone Star Dietz, some say at the bequest of his mother to honor her. When the Boston Braves football team changed their name in 1933 to the Boston Redskins–Lone Star’s first year as Redskins coach–they wanted a tie-in with the Boston Red Sox. The Redskins moved to Fenway Park that same year, and wanted some symmetry in the name with the already famous baseball team that occupied the same venue. With their head coach being a member of the Sioux Nation, it seemed like a perfect fit: the name Redskins was eventually agreed upon as a way of honoring both Native Americans and the Boston Red Sox.

    Second, the names “blackskins” or “yellowskins” have never existed in any formal way. Certainly, no members of those associated ethnic groups have ever referred themselves by those names. But members of native tribes have referred to themselves as redskins – many, many times.

    Again, there are some people who just don’t want to hear that – even refuse to believe it. But it’s true. Originally, the term “Redskin” was adopted by the Indians themselves to distinguish themselves from white people. There are a number of searchable, historically accurate instances of native tribal peoples using the name “redskin” to identify themselves, some of which appeared in an earlier article on this site, but in case you missed it:

    The term “red” was adopted by French and English by the 1750′s after the reference to “red man” was made in 1725 by a Taensa chief.
    According to the French (1725), the Taensa referred to themselves as “Red Men.”
    Three chiefs of the Piankashaws wrote (1769), “You think that I am an orphan; but all the people of these rivers and all the redskins will learn of my death.”
    In 1807 French Crow (Wahpekute, Santee Sioux) said, “I am a redskin…”
    In an 1815 speech by Chief Big Elk of the Omaha Tribe, he called himself (and others in similar positions among different tribes) “red skin chiefs”.
    Harvard-educated anthropologist Robert Hale Ives Goddard, III, curator emeritus in the Department of Anthropology of the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution, wrote a lengthy essay on the dozens of recorded instances that the word “redskin” has been used by tribal peoples.

  17. “He FOUND 3 leaders of Virginia Native American tribes?” Hypocritize much? Dan Snyder is the devil because he won’t listen to those who are offended. What does that make you when you marginalize and discredit any American Indian group that speaks out in support of the name?

    Guess you get to decide whose opinions matter when it comes to what should or shouldn’t offend American Indians. Only you know who the REAL American Indians are. The ones who aren’t offended are clearly phonies. On Dan Snyder’s payroll probably.

    While Dan Snyder is meeting with the Oneida Nation, maybe you should meet with these so called American Indians who aren’t offended and don’t want the name changed. Explain to them how they’re grossly misguided and how you and others of your ilk know what’s best for them.

    All voices should be heard, offended and unoffended alike.

  18. “During his visit, we will organize a special meeting of Oneida Nation families where Mr. Snyder can personally explain to them why he believes they deserve to be called ‘redskins.’ He can then hear directly from them why that term is so painful.”

    And speaking of PR letter writing…Snyder NEVER (you can use caps) said that the Oneida Nation families should be called ‘redskins’. He said that HIS TEAM should be called Redskins.

  19. Snyder should take him up on the offer, so he can talk to the Oneida families directly. Seems some of those families are offended by Mr Ray Halbritter himself. Perhaps he should change his name or his position within the tribe.

    Look it up. Oneida for Democracy.

  20. This “invitation” did not come from the Oneida Nation, it came from Ray Halbritter. Most of the Oneida people can’t stand him and they couldn’t care less about the team name. They are more worried about getting paid an average of $16,000 a year if they are lucky working for him in his casino, gas stations or other large businesses while he rakes in big bucks. They are worried about getting evicted from their houses by him (he evicted his own Aunt from her house). This guy is a complete and total fraud.

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