D.C.

Issues of tribal government discussed at Indian Nations conference

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(WJLA) - The past several weeks and months have been filled with debate over whether or not the Washington Redskins should change their nickname, which many find offensive.

That charge has been led recently by a tribe of Oneida Indians from New York, who have pulled no punches in their movement to get the team and owner Daniel Snyder to change the name.

However, when 566 tribal leaders representing the more than 5 million Native Americans in America descended on Washington for the start of the White House Indian Nations Conference, the topic was never broached.

Instead, tribal leaders spent their time discussing the issues that are directly impacting their people, including but not limited to sovereignty, taxes and cultural rights.

Not even President Barack Obama brought up the Redskins in his remarks.

Wallace Coffey, the leader of a 15,000-member strong tribe in Oklahoma, said that the name of the football team isn't really top of mind.

"We all know they'll continue to lose until they change their name," he said.

While the name change has been championed by the Oneida Nation, it appears that not all Native American tribes support the campaign. Some may not even be paying close attention to it.

"There are 565 tribes, and like everybody else, we're a little diverse in our opinions," Wyoming tribe leader Darwin St. Clair Jr. said.

While it may not be a top priority at these meetings and for many tribal leaders nationwide, there are some who take offense and there are some who do not.

"My husband...is Native American and he hopes they don't change it," California tribal leader Mary Resvaloso said. "He thinks they represent Native Americans in terms of power."

Others, naturally, disagree.

"It is a derogatory name and it's not respectful," tribal leader Rhonda Pope said.

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