It’s “surprising” that the Washington Redskins football team hasn’t changed its name, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said, though adding that the issue isn’t high on the agenda of Native-American tribes with whom she has spoken.
“Personally, I think we would never consider naming a team the ‘Blackskins’ or the ‘Brownskins’ or the ‘Whiteskins.’ So, personally, I find it surprising that in this day and age, the name is not different,” Jewell, who heads the department that includes the Bureau of Indian Affairs, told ABC News’ David Kerley when asked whether the name should be changed.
“But in talking with tribal leaders, this has not been the issue that they have talked about with me, and I think that there is debate, even among the Native American community, on the Washington Redskins, and certainly there are a lot of people who have pride in that team,” Jewell added. “So, my personal views are not necessarily reflected in the tribes that I talk to. It isn’t high on their agenda.”
Jewell’s comments, made during an interview at Acadia National Park in Maine for an upcoming feature on “This Week,” come as a coalition of Native-American groups, which includes the National Congress of American Indians and the Oneida Indian Nation, are urging broadcasters not to use the Redskins name. Fellow Obama cabinet secretary Attorney General Eric Holder told ABC News in July that he believes the Redskins name is “offensive” and should be changed.
A recent poll for ESPN, however, found that 71 percent of Americans support allowing the Washington Redskins to keep their name. The owner of the team, Dan Snyder, has defended the Redskins name, telling ESPN in a recent interview that “the name really means honor, respect.”
The Washington Redskins are scheduled to play the Houston Texans Sunday in their NFL season opener.