When Washington’s National Football League franchise travels to Green Bay for the second game of the young season Sunday, the Packers’ vaunted offense won’t be the only challenge it faces. Members of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin will be there too, protesting the team’s use of “Redskins” as its name, the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported Tuesday.
The Tribe, according to the Press-Gazette, is one of the Packers’ main sponsors and has taken a formal position against the use of “Redskins” and other names that perpetuate racial stereotypes. The Wisconsin Indian Education Association’s Mascot and Logo Taskforce is holding a seminar around the name Friday at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, and members from both it and the Oneida Tribe are expected to protest outside Lambeau Field before Sunday’s game, though the Oneida Tribe is not officially organizing the protests.
The protest is bad news for Washington owner Daniel Snyder, who was probably hoping the new season would put an offseason shrouded in controversy about his team’s name to rest. Snyder boasted to a reporter in May that the team would “NEVER” change the name and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell defended it as a sign of “strength, courage, pride, and respect,” but multiple members of Congress pilloried the franchise on the House floor and D.C. City Council members introduced a proposal to change the name. In a sign that it may be feeling the heat over the name, the Redskins held a focus group in which it asked fans about the name with renowned Republican pollster Frank Luntz, and it also sent fans a preseason questionnaire that included questions about the name.
Packers CEO Mark Murphy criticized the name in July, and Washington legends Darrell Green and Art Monk said that they thought a name change should at least get consideration, though they recanted on those thoughts a day later. But the controversy around the name obviously isn’t going away as the new season begins. In addition to the Wisconsin protests, the Oneida Nation of New York launched a radio ad last week targeting Goodell for defending the name. “We do not deserve to be called redskins,” Oneida leader Ray Albritton says in the ad. “We deserve to be treated as what we are — Americans.”