- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Del. C.T. Wilson is co-sponsoring a joint resolution urging the Washington Redskins to change the team’s nickname.
Introduced in early February by Wilson (D-Charles) and co-sponsor Del. Talmadge Branch (D-Baltimore), the resolution states, “The term ‘redskins’ has been associated with gruesome acts of genocide, is disparaging to those of Native American heritage, and is not befitting a professional football team with such a proud, honorable, and uplifting tradition, especially a team representing the nation’s capital and playing in Maryland, a State grounded in respect for the dignity of all individuals.”
Wilson doesn’t have high hopes for the resolution’s passage but felt obligated to show American Indians that they have allies in the legislature.
“I believe there is very little chance of it passing, but even if it doesn’t pass, at least they knew that someone out there tried,” he said.
Efforts by American Indian groups to change the name date back more than two decades, but a campaign spearheaded by the Oneida Indian Nation in New York has drawn renewed national attention to the issue during the past year.
Team owner Dan Snyder has pledged that the name will not change. National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell has maintained support for the name while stating the league remains open to a dialogue with American Indian groups.
Wilson knows the resolution, by addressing such a hot-button issue in the midst of campaign season, could generate unwanted attention.
“This really isn’t about me,” he said. “Naively, I thought we could sneak this through. This is not the time to do this, politically. I’ll probably lose supporters over this, but God might not even have me alive in time for the next election, so why not do what you think is the right thing right now?”
Members of three Piscataway tribes — which in January 2012 became the first American Indian tribes to be officially recognized by the state — live throughout Southern Maryland but primarily in Charles County.
“I think it’s timely with the state the last couple years doing things to move native people away from total exclusion to where they’ve been acknowledged that they exist,” Choptico Band of Piscataway member Rico Newman said of Wilson’s bill.
Chairman of the Maryland Indian Tourism Association, a Waldorf-based nonprofit, Newman rejected claims by the team and those who support the name that the term “redskin” is “a badge of respect.”
“It’s a term that’s been used since the late 18th century that had a single determination, and it has and always has been negative,” Newman said. “I always tell people, if you think its an endearing term, the next time you meet someone you know is an American Indian, look at them, and even smile while you do it, and call them a redskin. I’d suggest you duck.”