A group of lawmakers on Capitol Hill is calling on the Washington Redskins to drop the name that has long been deemed offensive to Native Americans, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.
The ten members of Congress sent letters to Redskins owner Dan Snyder, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Redskins sponsor FedEx, and the other 31 NFL franchises.
"Native Americans throughout the country consider the ‘R-word’ a racial, derogatory slur akin to the ‘N-word’ among African Americans or the ‘W-word’ among Latinos," read the letter to Snyder.
The letter goes on to say:
"The current Chairman and Chief of the Penobscot Nation, Chief Kirk Francis, recently stated in a joint statement that the [R-word] is ‘not just a racial slur or a derogatory term,’ but a painful ‘reminder of one of the most gruesome acts of . . . ethnic cleansing ever committed against the Penobscot people.’ The hunting and killing of Penobscot Indians like animals, as declared by Chief Francis, was ‘a most despicable and disgraceful act of genocide’…
"In this day and age, it is imperative that you uphold your moral responsibility to disavow the usage of racial slurs. The usage of the [R-word] is especially harmful to Native American youth, tending to lower their sense of dignity and self-esteem. It also diminishes feelings of community worth among the Native American tribes and dampens the aspirations of their people.
The 10 Congress members who signed the letter include the co-chairs of the Congressional Native American Caucus Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma) and Betty McCollum (D-Minnesota), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Arizona), Gwen Moore (D-Wisconsin), Michael M. Honda (D-California), Donna M. Christensen (D-Virginia), Zoe Lofgren (D-California), Barbara Lee (D-California), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), and Eni F.H. Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa).
As the Washington Post’s Mike Jones noted, the Redskins franchise has no comment on the letter. Redskins owner Dan Snyder has previously said he "will never change the name of the team."