Sen. Cantwell to NFL: It's time to dump the 'Redskins' name

WASHINGTON - A Washington state senator has sent a strongly worded letter urging the National Football League to support changing the name of the Washington Redskins, calling it an "insult to Native Americans."

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., chairwoman of the Indian Affairs Committee, is the latest to join the call for dropping the "Redskins" name for the NFL's Washington, D.C., team.

In a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, she said she is disappointed with the NFL's support of the Redskins name and called on Goodell to "take a formal position in support of a name change."

"Saying the Washington football team 'honored Native Americans' perpetuates a charade that dishonors Native people and their governments and erodes the reputation of the National Football League," Cantwell wrote. "This term does not honor - but rather disparages - Indian people and tribes."

In a statement replying to Cantwell's criticism, the Washington Redskins organization said there are many "issues more pressing (to native peoples) than the name of a football team which has received strong support from Native Americans."

Those other issues include an extremely cold winter with high energy bills, high Native American unemployment, life-threatening health problems and inadequate education, the Redkins statement said.

The Redkins statement also pointed out that a school in Wellpinit, Wash., where the population is 90 percent Native American, bears the name of Redskins and residents there have resisted efforts to change it.

The Redskins statement also accused Cantwell of meddling in areas outside her scope when she should be focused on more important issues such as the economy, jobs, war and health care.

But in an interview on Sunday, Cantwell remained firm and said Congress might examine the NFL's tax-exempt status as a way of pressuring the league to change the name of the Washington team.