The controversy over sports team names such as the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians reignited the issue of Native American rights and history. Jolene Rickard, director of the American Indian Program at Cornell University and a citizen of the Tuscarora Nation in western New York state says that this issue should focus attention on the need for treaty reform between Native Americans and the federal government. Rickard also is an associate professor at Cornell University and specializes in the representation of indigenous civilizations globally.
“The recent pressure that the Oneida Nation has asserted against the ongoing marketing of sports with racist epithets seeks to raise the level of racial consciousness in America.
“For native nations, the issue of a sport team name is not central to the critical concerns of most native peoples but the campaign has drawn out the disregard that many Americans demonstrate by their continued use of 'Washington Redskins' or 'Cleveland Indians.'
“The promise of confronting this issue is that it should focus attention on the need for real reform in the treaty relationship between the ancestral inhabitants of this land and the newcomers, or the United States.”