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Halbritter on R-Word: 'When Many People Speak Out Change Can Happen'

Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter spoke at Columbia University Thursday and said people are beginning to see the harm of the R-word.

Speaking at Columbia University in New York City Thursday night, Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter said he believes the name of the Washington football team is headed toward inevitable change.

Halbritter, who was invited by students at the Study of Ethnicity and Race (CSER) as part of an indigenous forum speaker series, said to a room of about 25 students and professors that the "R-word" is a dictionary-defined racial slur and the football team "is not entertainment" but instead "controversy."

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Halbritter commended the schools and students across the nation, including Lancaster High School in New York, who have worked to change the name of the school's R-word mascot.

The Lancaster school board voted unanimously on March 16 to change the name of its mascot after several lacrosse teams refused to play the school on account of its racist team name. The school board recognized the mascot "as a symbol of ethnic stereotyping," according to its resolution.

Halbritter said Lancaster is an example of the inevitable change occurring across the country concerning the R-word. He added more people are becoming aware of the detriments of dehumanizing Native Americans mascots. 

"When many people speak out change can happen," he said. "They know that this is not the world they want for their children."

Halbritter helms the Change the Mascot campaign along with the National Congress of American Indians.

Washington football team owner Dan Snyder said he will "NEVER" change the name.