Redskins name debate: DC City Council approves resolution calling on name change

6:47 PM, Nov 5, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- The Washington Redskins don't have to do what the DC city council says. Despite "Washington" in the name, the city has no authority over the team. 

That did not stop city council from approving a measure Tuesday to urge the team to change their name. The council was only the latest to jump on the bandwagon.

This is not the first time there's been an effort to change the Redskins name but those on the council who support the name change say what is different this time is that the national spotlight is brighter than ever.

"I think it's just time to change the name. The country is getting around it," said Councilmember David Grosso.

Grosso sponsored the proposal. Jay Winter Nightwolf of the Echota Cherokee Nation supports it. 

"This word 'Redskin' is the worst insult to a Native American that one can make," said Nightwolf, who attended the council meeting in traditional Native American attire.

Councilmember Vincent Orange was in the minority on the council.

"I know the Washington Redskins as a team of endearment, as a team I cheered for, I rooted for. My nephew, Lorenzo Alexander played for the team. I've never known it as a derogatory term," said Orange.

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has been clear that's he's not budging. He recently wrote a letter to Redskins fans where he said, "The name was never a label. It was and continues to be a badge of honor... our fans sing 'Hail to the Redskins' in celebration... They speak proudly of "Redskins Nation" in honor of a sports team they love."

But Nightwolf argued, "There's no honor in that."

Despite the lack of support from DC city council, Snyder has pointed to other Native Americans who have been outspoken in their support of keeping the name. He has the support of the NFL and of many Redskins fans.

This week, he called on Skins fans to flood city council with what he described as "team pride." Snyder has spoken about the long history and proud tradition of the name and the organization.

Grosso understands what he's up against. "There's something there that means a lot to him and means a lot to a lot of fans. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't change it," he said.

Councilman Orange said, not only does he not think they should change their name, but that it's someone else's fight. 

"The NFL, Dan Snyder and those opposed to it - let them work it out," said Orange.

Not having any authority over the team, city council merely wanted their view to be on the record. But taking this stand could hurt chances of luring the team back to DC.

"Right now I think we have an opportunity and I don't think we should blow it," said Orange, who, earlier in the council meeting, formally pitched the idea of turning RFK into the new home of the Redskins. Orange proposed launching a study to look into bringing the team back DC by 2027, but to a new, 100,000 seat, multi-purpose dome that could a golf course, water park and retail stores.
But Grosso stressed that he's going to push for conditions: "I wouldn't support bringing the team back or support building a stadium unless they change the name."

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