(House of Representatives - November 19, 2013)

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[Pages H7193-H7194]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from New 
York (Mr. Maffei) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. MAFFEI. Mr. Speaker, I am proud to represent central New York, 
home of the six nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, which was 
also known as the Iroquois Confederacy. It includes the Mohawks, the 
Oneidas, the Onondagas, the Cayugas, the Senecas, and, later, the 
Tuscaroras. It spread across New York, and was one of the earliest 
civil governments in territory that now lies within the United States 
and Canada.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of Oneidas' leader Ray 
Halbritter's efforts to change the name of the Washington, D.C., 
National Football League team. The name of the Washington football team 
is derogatory to the Native Americans of this country. For many Native 
Americans across the

[[Page H7194]]

land, the name of the Washington football team is a deeply personal 
reminder of a legacy of racism and of generations of pain.
  The current campaign to change the team's name is supported by many 
groups and individuals, including Native American organizations, civic 
and government leaders, editorial boards, and many leaders, including 
my colleagues, Representatives Betty McCollum and Tom Cole, and many 
others in a nonpartisan effort.
  President Obama said recently:

       If I were the owner of a team and I knew that there was a 
     name of my team--even if it had a storied history--that was 
     offending a sizable group of people, I'd think about changing 

  I wholeheartedly join this effort.
  I also believe that the owner of the Washington team and other NFL 
owners should meet with the Oneidas as they have requested. How can we 
achieve mutual understanding unless they are willing to meet?
  Mr. Speaker, in my office and with me now, I keep a replica of a Two 
Row Wampum belt, called the Guswhenta. It was lent to me by the 
Onondagas, and it symbolizes one of the first treaties between the 
Native Americans and the Europeans, concluded in 1613 between the Dutch 
and the Haudenosaunee. The two rows of wampum, which are beads made out 
of shells, represent Europeans and Native Americans. They are equal in 
size and travel together along a strip of white, representing peace. It 
was and still is a symbol of friendship and community.
  Although the years since this treaty was concluded have seen much 
devastation and tribulation for Native Americans, today, the 
Haudenosaunee endure and maintain their culture. We have much to do to 
improve our relationship between our two peoples after centuries of 
strife, conflict, and repression, but so many are working to mend the 
riffs and to restore the promise of brotherhood and respect that this 
treaty belt contains. I joined a group of canoers last summer--Native 
Americans, European Americans, Asian and African Americans--who rode 
together across upstate New York and to New York City in order to 
commemorate this 400-year-old agreement.
  Wouldn't it be great if, in order to show reverence and respect for 
the Haudenosaunee and the Native American tribes across this country, 
we could continue to do these things. Wouldn't it be great if, on this 
400th anniversary of this groundbreaking treaty, we could right the 
wrong and change this NFL's team's name.
  Mr. Speaker, this treaty was perhaps the first, but it wasn't the 
last. In November of 1794, George Washington, whose portrait is one of 
only two portraits in this hallowed Hall, through his official 
representative, Tom Pickering, concluded the treaty of Canandaigua with 
the Haudenosaunee. President Washington had a six-foot-long treaty belt 
that was fashioned to ratify this treaty that our two peoples should 
live in peace and friendship.
  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?