(Photo: Keith Allison)
United States Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has joined the list of people calling for the Washington Redskins to change their team name.
Reid told The Hill Thursday that he felt Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder was "so shortsighted on this."
"We live in a society where you can't denigrate a race of people. And that's what that is. I mean, you can't have the Washington Blackskins. I think it's so shortsighted," said Reid.
The Oneida Indian Nation, which has been leading the effort to "Change the Mascot," praised Reid for his remarks in a statement released Thursday.
"I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to Senate Major Leader Reid for speaking out boldly against racial intolerance and bigotry," stated Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter.
"Demands for change from America's top leaders give energy to our Change the Mascot movement, and they inspire us to push ahead with our calls for the Washington team and the NFL to finally place themselves on the right side of history."
Reid is not the highest ranked federal elected official to express his opposition to Washington's team name. President Barack Obama commented earlier this year about the controversy.
"If I were the owner of the team and I knew that there was a name of my team - even if it had a storied history - that was offending a sizeable group of people, I'd think about changing it," said Obama to the Associated Press.
For years if not decades the controversy over the Washington Redskins team name and mascot has ebbed and flowed in the public consciousness.
The most recent wave of attention came after an interview Snyder gave to USA Today Sports in May where he declared that the name will not be changed under his watch.
"As a lifelong Redskins fan, and I think that the Redskins fans understand the great tradition and what it's all about and what it means, so we feel pretty fortunate to be just working on next season," said Snyder.
"We'll never change the name … It's that simple. NEVER - you can use caps."
Supporters of the team name have pointed to several polls indicating the vast majority of Native Americans do not care about the name and some even find it positive.
Rick Reilly, columnist with ESPN.com, wrote back in September about the large number of Native Americans, including his father-in-law, who find the "Change the Mascot" campaign "silly."
"For the majority of Native Americans who don't care, we'll care for them. For the Native Americans who haven't asked for help, we're glad to give it to them," wrote Reilly sarcastically.
"Trust us. We know what's best. We'll take this away for your own good, and put up barriers that protect you from ever being harmed again. Kind of like a reservation."