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Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry
Native Americans Celebrate USPTO’s Cancellation of Trademark for Redskins, a Derogatory Slur
Washington, DC – Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry, a group of Native parents and their allies from across the country celebrate today the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s cancellation of six trademarks for the Washington NFL franchise of the name “Redskins.” We fully support and thank them for recognizing the word as a derogatory slur and “disparaging to Native Americans.” We look forward to the team’s selection of a new mascot and name that unites, instead of divides the American people and proudly represents in our nation’s capital the respect we as American people strive to show to all American people of all ethnic backgrounds.
EONM would also like to recognize the work of Suzan Shown Harjo (Muscogee Creek ) a long-time activist with the Morningstar Foundation on this issue who pursued this trademark case for 22 years since the original filing of the first trademark case she brought against the Washington Redsk*ns in 1992. She persevered after her first successful suit was repealed on a technicality (not the merits of the case) the age of one of the defendants and filed this second suit. Now after two decades, the USPTO has finally come down on the side of what is right and it is about time.
We would also like to recognize the plaintiffs in the lawsuit both past and present. Thank you for standing up for our people and bringing about the end of a racial slur being used to market a professional, national sports team.
We also call upon Nike, Adidas and other sports apparel manufacturers to stop selling products with the Redsk*ns logo on them and to reconsider their position on sales of other offensive Native mascots like the equally derogatory and grotesque caricature of Chief Wahoo used to market the Cleveland Indians Major League Baseball team.
We also call upon Redsk*ns-Fed Ex Field to rename the stadium in light of the USPTO’s ruling.
We also found the arguments put forward by the Washington, DC NFL franchise in the trademark case disingenuous. The term Redsk*ns may seem to refer to people in the DC area only to football but this speaks to the elimination of Native voices in the community through the historical fact of genocide. It has only been through the advent of social media and the work of the 900+ Native members and their allies of EONM that many of the team’s fans have ever even spoken to a Native person about how they feel about the name. Citing our elimination from the American consciousness because of genocide is not an acceptable argument to continued use of a slur.
All in all this is a great day for greater equality for all Americans in the United States and will help the next generation of Native youth to feel more included in American society and increase their chances of success in it (see the work of Dr. Stephanie Fryberg on harm of Native mascots). We hope that Americans will take the time to learn more about real Native Americans’ lives and include a greater variety of depictions of us in it. The pigeon-holing and stale stereotypes must be put aside for greater sharing and understanding and for the betterment of our civil society as a whole. Once a new name is chosen Native Americans look forward to attending and cheering not only the football team, but the people of Washington, DC and their choice to hear Native people’s concerns.