After keeping relatively quiet about the name of his football team, Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder broke his silence in a letter to Redskins fans Wednesday. Snyder defended his stance that the name should remain the same as it has for the past 81 years, reports CNN.
These comments came after President Barack Obama weighed in on the issue, saying on Saturday that if he was the owner of the Redskins, he “would think about” changing the name if it was “offending a sizable group of people.”
“Our franchise has a great history, tradition and legacy representing our proud alumni and literally tens of millions of loyal fans worldwide,” Snyder wrote. “We are proud of our team and the passion of our loyal fans. Our fans sing ‘Hail to the Redskins’ in celebration at every Redskins game. They speak proudly of ‘Redskins Nation’ in honor of a sports team they love.”
Snyder grew up a Redskins fan and stressed that he wants to keep team pride alive with the name intact. ”After 81 years, the team name ‘Redskins’ continues to hold the memories and meaning of where we came from, who we are, and who we want to be in the years to come,” he wrote.
He also addressed the outcry from the Oneida Nation, saying, “I respect the feelings of those who are offended by the team name. But I hope such individuals also try to respect what the name means, not only for all of us in the extended Washington Redskins family, but among Native Americans too.”
Ray Halbritter, a representative for the Oneida Nation, however, is not pleased with Snyder’s response. The nation is set to have a meeting with NFL representatives soon, and Halbritter said he wants to have Snyder personally meet with members of the Oneida.
“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,” Halbritter said. “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.’”