By Ashley Dunkak
DETROIT (CBS DETROIT) – Oneida Indian Nation is branching out in its campaign to force the Washington Redskins to change their team’s mascot. The group has run radio advertisements during Washington’s home and road games this season. The first ad not related to a Redskins game will air Thanksgiving Day on 97.1 The Ticket.
“Change the Mascot” ads will be broadcast during the game between the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers. The press release about the expanded campaign refers to Redskins as the R-word and describes the term as a racial slur.
According to the press release about the campaign, the choice to use Thanksgiving to promote the name change stemmed from the historical origins of the holiday. Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter narrates the ad, which begins in that vein.
“Thanksgiving is a day to celebrate the ideals of mutual respect between Native Americans and their surrounding communities and to give thanks,” Halbritter says in the spot. “In that spirit, we express our gratitude to everyone who has stood up in support of an important civil rights issue – changing the Washington NFL team’s name.”
After listing various individuals and entities that have sided with the “Change the Mascot” cause, the ad closes with an appeal.
“The supporters of change have sent a powerful message to the NFL,” Halbritter concludes. “They have said that no group deserves to be treated as a target of a racial slur. They have said Native Americans deserve to be treated as what we are: Americans.”
Not all Native Americans evidently feel the same way, though.
When the Redskins hosted the San Francisco 49ers Monday night, the organization honored four Navajo Code Talkers for their service in World War II. One of those, Roy Hawthorne, told the Associated Press he and the others met with team owner Daniel Snyder but did not discuss the name.
According to the Associated Press, Hawthorne feels the team name is “a symbol of loyalty and courage — not a derogatory slur” and calls the word “a Native-American icon that has many positive meanings.”