(Adds references to controversy over use of Native American imagery by other sports teams)
By Lacey Johnson
WASHINGTON, Aug 9 (Reuters) - The online magazine Slate.com and two other publications have said they will no longer refer to the National Football League’s Washington, D.C., football team as the “Redskins,” a name Native Americans have condemned as offensive.
The Washington franchise has long declined to change its name in spite of criticism from Native Americans and others. A group of Native Americans has gone to court to void the federal trademark protections of the team’s name.
“This is the last Slate article that will refer to the Washington NFL team as the Redskins,” Slate editor David Plotz wrote on the magazine’s website on Thursday.
He said the decision was about recognizing that “something that may seem innocent to you may be painful to others.”
In response to Slate’s announcement, New Republic editor Franklin Foer Tweeted on Thursday that his publication would follow suit.
The liberal magazine Mother Jones said on Friday it would also avoid using the name.
Other newspapers, websites and sports writers have taken similar stands, including The Washington City Paper, Washington online site DCist.com, the Kansas City Star newspaper and football writers at the Buffalo News and the Philadelphia Daily News.
The National Congress of American Indians, an advocacy group, said Slate.com recognized “the derogatory origins and nature of the team’s name.”
Representatives for the team declined to comment about the decisions by Slate and the other media organizations, but team owner Daniel Snyder recently told the newspaper USA Today, “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. Never. You can use all caps.”
Other sports teams have come under criticism for their use of Native American imagery or names. The grinning red faced Native American with a single feather that makes up the logo of the Cleveland Indians baseball team has come under fire from some groups for years as being offensive.
And in 2007, after more than 80 years, the University of Illinois bowed to complaints from Native American groups and dropped its mascot Chief Illiniwek, who was portrayed by buckskin-clad students at university sports events.
In 2005 though, the National Collegiate Athletic Association ruled that Florida State University could keep its Seminole nickname, as it was endorsed by the Seminole tribe. (Editing by Ian Simpson, Kenneth Barry and David Brunnstrom)