The Washington Post

One Indian says he loves the Redskins and doesn’t want Dan Snyder to change the name

Angela Hall, 35, and her brother, Daniel Thomas, 32, share a laugh on their front porch in Oneida, N.Y. They are hugeWashington Redskins fans and think that it's an honor that a national football team represents them. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

Daniel Thomas doesn’t hesitate to sport his Redskins gear around Oneida County in central New York. The 32-year-old Mohawk Indian has even worn his burgundy-and-gold paraphernalia on visits to Turning Stone Resort Casino, which is owned by the tribe pushing Washington’s football team to change its name.

“Nobody has ever said anything to me about it, and I wear my Redskins gear all the time,” said Thomas, whose grandfather was a member of the Oneida Indian Nation, the group that has launched nationwide radio ads and met with National Football League officials to lobby against a name it considers a racial slur.

As the controversy over the name has intensified in recent months, Thomas has wondered whether he should send a letter to Daniel Snyder, the owner of the Redskins.

If he does, he will recount how his family has been rooting for the Redskins for as long as he can remember. His father loved the team. His uncles loved the team. He already knows what he wants to buy his baby daughter for Christmas: a Redskins onesie.

It’s only fitting. Already, Thomas has hats, coats, blankets, winter gloves and jerseys with the team’s name on it. His brother has a room in his house painted burgundy and gold and drives a truck decorated with the team’s logo.

“I can’t speak for everybody, but I’m proud of my team,” said Thomas, a stay-at-home father. “I support my team. I stand behind my team. I don’t want them to change the name.”

Thomas said he can understand if other Native Americans feel differently, but he is not offended by the moniker. Instead, he pointed to a team name that conjures images of another time in history that he said should bother American Indians more.

“If you’re Native American,” he said, “and you root for the Dallas Cowboys, I think that’s a problem.”

Ultimately, if the team changes its name, Thomas said he would still be a fan. He would just put his Redskins gear in a glass case.

As for that letter, Thomas said he hasn’t decided whether to write it.

“He might not get it,” he said of Snyder. “That guy has got a lot to do.”

Theresa Vargas is a reporter for the Post’s local enterprise team.


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