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N.Y. congressman Rep. Dan Maffei joins fight to change Redskins name

2:19 PM, Nov 19, 2013   |    comments
Rep. Dan Maffei, D-N.Y., pictured here in 2010 with his wife, Abby. (Photo: Kevin Rivoli, AP)
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(USA TODAY) Rep. Dan Maffei, D-N.Y., is supporting the fight to change the Washington Redskins' team name.

Maffei said in a speech on the House floor Tuesday that he was siding with the Oneida Indian Nation and its push to drop the football team's name. The congressman, who noted the Oneidas and several other tribes have ties to Central New York, did not use the Washington team's name in his short remarks.

"The name of the Washington football team is derogatory to the Native Americans of this country," said Maffei, who is in his second term in Congress. "For many Native Americans across the lands, the name of the Washington football team is a deeply personal reminder of a legacy of racism and generations of pain."

Team owner Daniel Snyder is adamant that he will never change the name, citing its "heritage" in a letter to Washington fans. President Obama recently said he'd think about changing the team's name if he were the owner, and was thanked for his comments by Oneida representative Ray Halbritter during a White House meeting.

Maffei called on Snyder and other pro football team owners to meet with the Oneidas as the tribe has requested, and seek "mutual understanding" on an emotional issue that's played out this football season.

During his remarks, the congressman held up the replica of a wampum belt given to him by the Onondangas, which like the Oneidas, were among the six nations of the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois Confederacy.

The belt symbolizes one of the first treaties reached between Native Americans and Europeans.

"Wouldn't it be great if during the 400th anniversary of this groundbreaking treaty, we could right the wrong and change this NFL team's name?" Maffei asked.

Catalina Camia, USA TODAY

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