Maffei holds a Two Row Wampum Belt during his speech on the House floor. He argued that the "Redskins" should change their name.

Congressman Won't Say 'Redskins' in House Speech; Calls for Name-Change


“Mr. Speaker, George Washington himself respected the Native Americans of this country and their culture. Shouldn’t the NFL team that bears his name do the same?”

Respect was what Rep. Dan Maffei (D-NY) called for during a three-minute speech on the House floor in Washington, D.C., yesterday. He refrained from uttering the word “Redskins,” while arguing that the Washington NFL team should change its name.

"The name of the Washington football team is derogatory to the Native Americans of this country," Maffei said. "For many Native Americans across the land, the name of the Washington football team is a deeply personal reminder of a legacy of racism and generations of pain."

Maffei also spoke about the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua between George Washington and the six nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, some of which he represents in Congress. George Washington ratified the treaty by having a six-foot-long belt fashioned to signify peace and friendship between their two cultures.

RELATED Native History: Canandaigua Treaty Marks End of War, Celebrated Today

He argued that if Washington and the Haudenosaunee people could work together back then, then Dan Snyder, and the NFL, should work with Native American groups toward an understanding about changing the team’s name.

During the speech, Maffei held a Two Row Wampum Belt given to him by the Onondagas, which he said symbolizes one of the first treaties between the Haudenosaunee and the Dutch in 1613.

He asked, “Wouldn’t it be great if during the 400th anniversary of this groundbreaking treaty, we could right the wrong and change this NFL team’s name?”

He listed his colleagues, Betty McCollum and Tom Cole as allies of the name-change debate, and mentioned President Obama as well.

RELATED Obama Says 'Redskins' Should Think Seriously About Changing Name

RELATED Oneida Nation Poll Shows More Support for Redskins Name Change 

Maffei backed the Oneida Indian Nation’s “Change the Mascot” campaign and said that the Washington team and other NFL owners should meet with the Oneida Nation.

RELATED Oneida Nation and NFL Discuss Why 'Redskins' Name Should Change

He asked, “How can we achieve mutual understanding unless they are willing to meet?”

Maffei is from Central New York, home of the Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee, known as the Iroquois Confederacy. 

He tweeted about his speech yesterday.



Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on

I've got some good news and some bad news.

The good news is that FINALLY someone in the halls of government has made a stance about calling us Redskins. It's no surprise to me that it's a Democrat.

The bad news is that even a Congressman who supports us in this cause doesn't know American history from the Native viewpoint. George Washington did NOT respect Native Americans. Check out this info:

George Washington...

In 1779, George Washington instructed Major General John Sullivan to attack Iroquois people. Washington stated, "lay waste all the settlements around...that the country may not be merely overrun, but destroyed". In the course of the carnage and annihilation of Indian people, Washington also instructed his general not "listen to any overture of peace before the total ruin of their settlements is effected". (Stannard, David E. AMERICAN HOLOCAUST. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. pp. 118-121.)

In 1783, Washington's anti-Indian sentiments were apparent in his comparisons of Indians with wolves: "Both being beast of prey, tho' they differ in shape", he said. George Washington's policies of extermination were realized in his troops behaviors following a defeat. Troops would skin the bodies of Iroquois "from the hips downward to make boot tops or leggings". Indians who survived the attacks later re-named the nation's first president as "Town Destroyer". Approximately 28 of 30 Seneca towns had been destroyed within a five year period. (Ibid)

Another group ignorant of American histiory is the Tea Party. They constantly that the "founding fathers" were great men concerned with human rights and justice for all. Not so. They were all slave owners.

Thomas Jefferson...
In 1807, Thomas Jefferson instructed his War Department that, should any Indians resist against America stealing Indian lands, the Indian resistance must be met with "the hatchet". Jefferson continued, "And...if ever we are constrained to lift the hatchet against any tribe, " he wrote, "we will never lay it down till that tribe is exterminated, or is driven beyond the Mississippi." Jefferson, the slave owner, continued, "in war, they will kill some of us; we shall destroy all of them". (Ibid)

In 1812, Jefferson said that American was obliged to push the backward Indians "with the beasts of the forests into the Stony Mountains". One year later Jefferson continued anti-Indian statements by adding that America must "pursue [the Indians] to extermination, or drive them to new seats beyond our reach". (Ibid)

Abraham Lincoln...

In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln ordered the execution, by hanging, of 38 Dakota Sioux prisoners in Mankato, Minnesota. Most of those executed were holy men or political leaders of their camps. None of them were responsible for committing the crimes they were accused of. Coined as the Largest Mass Execution in U.S. History. (Brown, Dee. BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED KNEE. New York: Holt, Rinehart, Winston, 1970. pp. 59-61)

Theodore Roosevelt...
The fourth face you see on that "Stony Mountain" is America's first twentieth century president, alleged American hero, and Nobel peace prize recipient, Theodore Roosevelt. This Indian fighter firmly grasped the notion of Manifest Destiny saying that America's extermination of the Indians and thefts our their lands "was ultimately beneficial as it was inevitable". Roosevelt once said, "I don't go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn't like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth". (Stannard, Op.Cit.)


Anyone can find this information easily, but how many would rather believe the WHITE-washed version of American history? It makes it much easier to believe that we're the greatest country in the world. Ignorance may be bliss, but it's not to the people who suffered behind the scenes.