Leaders from the Oneida Nation, the group that has led the “Change The Mascot” campaign against Washington’s professional football team, will meet with members of the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday to discuss their efforts to change the team’s “Redskins” name, USA Today reports.
Oneida’s Ray Halbritter, who spoke out against the “dictionary-defined slur” the team uses as a nickname throughout the 2013 NFL season, will meet with Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic in New York, according to USA Today, and he hopes to enlist the U.N.’s help in the fight:
“I am very heartened by this opportunity to have a dialogue … about this important moral, human and civil rights issue,” Halbritter told USA TODAY Sports. “It’s very encouraging to see national and now international leaders potentially recognizing the harmful impacts of using this term that denigrates Indian peoples.”
The U.N. is a new front in Oneida’s fight against the name, but the Human Rights Council has experience dealing with similar issues in sports, as it has worked with FIFA and other soccer organizations to combat racism in the sport. It has also worked on racially-charged political issues in the United States: in 2012, the NAACP (which also opposes the use of “Redskins”) met with U.N. officials to discuss voter identification laws that have restricted minority access to polling places.
The Human Rights Council can’t actually force a name change, of course, but if it or top officials like Simonovic come out against continued use of “Redskins,” it would add the organization to the growing list of of people and groups who think the name should be changed. That list already includes major civil rights groups like the NAACP and ACLU, the D.C. city council, at least one current Washington player, members of Congress, and President Obama. Meanwhile, Washington owner Dan Snyder still refuses to meet with Native American groups who want the name changed and has vowed that it “NEVER” will.