The Oneida Indian Nation commissioned a poll that shows 59% of adults in the Washington region say that American Indians would have a right to feel offended if called "redskin."
The poll, scheduled to be released today, also showed that if the Washington pro football club changed its name, 55% said it would not affect their support for the team while 25% said it would lessen their support and 18% said it would increase it.
The NFL and the Oneidas expect to have a meeting in coming weeks and 77% said they felt Washington team owner Daniel Snyder should attend while 14% said he should not and 9% were unsure.
The poll of 500 adults was conducted by SurveyUSA and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4%.
Lanny Davis, an attorney for the Washington team, declined comment on the poll other than to say, "Dan Snyder's letter said it all. Dan Snyder's letter states the reason for the name not being changed."
Snyder sent an open letter to season ticket holders and fans of the team last week that defended the team name on the basis of history and tradition. He said he respected other opinions and expressed a willingness to listen to them.
"You cannot poll morality, and our hope is that Mr. Snyder will demonstrate true leadership and change the offensive name, not because of what any public opinion studies show, but because it's the right thing to do," Oneida Indian Nation representative Ray Halbritter said in a statement. "However, this polling information is valuable because it shows that the team has nothing to fear economically by changing its name."
The poll showed that even among those who identified themselves as fans of the Washington team, as opposed to fans of another team or no team, 46% said a name change would not lessen their support while 30% said it would make them less of a fan and 23% said it would make them more of a fan.
As to whether American Indians have a right to feel offended if called "redskin," 52% of Washington team fans said they would have a right to feel offended, 30% said they would not and 18% said they were not sure.
As to whether Snyder should attend the meeting with the Oneidas, fans of his team were slightly more likely to say yes than respondents as a whole: 78% said he should attend, 13% said he should not and 9% were unsure.
The Oneida Indian Nation, which is a sponsor of the Buffalo Bills, has been running a radio ad campaign advocating a name change and last week held a symposium in Washington on the issue.
"As proud sponsors of the NFL, we want to see the league succeed and hope that the Washington team will finally take this important step, which would reflect positively on them and the NFL," Halbritter said.
The Anti-Defamation League, which fights anti-Semitism, issued a statement Tuesday that called on pro sports teams to consider abandoning hurtful and offensive team names, though it said such decisions lie with team ownerships, with input from their fans.
"While it is not the intention of the fans, owners or leaders of sports franchises to offend, teams like the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Indians have a responsibility to be sensitive to the legitimate hurt that offensive names, mascots and logos cause," Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director, said in a statement. "Tradition matters, but tradition should not justify the perpetuation of such names and mascots."