Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry Press Release (mascot) 

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Jacqueline Keeler

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  She persevered after her first successful suit was repealed on a technicality (not the merits of the case) the age of one of the defendants and filed this second suit.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.


Canceling Trademark (mascot)

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has canceled the Washington Redskins trademark registration, calling the football team’s name “disparaging to Native Americans.”

The landmark case, which appeared before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, was filed on behalf of five Native Americans. It was the second time such a case was filed.

“This victory was a long time coming and reflects the hard work of many attorneys at our firm,” said lead attorney Jesse Witten, of Drinker Biddle & Reath.

Federal trademark law does not permit registration of trademarks that “may disparage” individuals or groups or “bring them into contempt or disrepute.” The ruling pertains to six different trademarks associated with the team, each containing the word “Redskin.”

“We are extraordinarily gratified to have prevailed in this case,” Alfred Putnam Jr., the chairman of Drinker Biddle & Reath, said. “The dedication and professionalism of our attorneys and the determination of our clients have resulted in a milestone victory that will serve as an historic precedent.”


The California-based Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation aired this ad during the recent NBA Finals urging the Washington Redskins to change the team's name. (  / Video courtesy of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation)

The ruling does not mean that the Redskins have to change the name of the team. It does affect whether the team and the NFL can make money from merchandising because it limits the team’s legal options when others use the logos and the name on T shirts, sweatshirts, beer glasses and license plate holders.

In addition, Native Americans have won at this stage before, in 1999. But the team and the NFL won an appeal to federal court in 2009. The court did not rule on the merits of the case, however, but threw it out, saying that the plaintiffs didn’t have standing to file it. The team is likely to make the same appeal this time.

Robert Raskopf, a lawyer who has been representing the team since the first case was filed in 1992, was not concerned about the ruling.

“We’ve seen this story before,” he said. “And just like last time, today’s ruling will have no effect at all on the team’s ownership of and right to use the Redskins name and logo.

“We are confident we will prevail once again, and that the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s divided ruling will be overturned on appeal. This case is no different than an earlier case, where the Board cancelled the Redskins’ trademark registrations, and where a federal district court disagreed and reversed the Board.”

Raskopf said the team’s trademark registrations would remain effective during the appeal.

The current lawsuit was brought eight years ago by Amanda Blackhorse, Phillip Glover, Marcus Briggs-Cloud, Jillian Pappan and Courtney Tsotigh.

“It is a great victory for Native Americans and for all Americans,” Blackhorse said in a statement. “I hope this ruling brings us a step closer to that inevitable day when the name of the Washington football team will be changed.”

The Redskins name change controversy has been gathering steam over the past few years. U.S. senators, former and current NFL players and others all have called for team owner Dan Snyder to change the name.

Snyder has steadfastly refused to consider a name change, saying the name and logo honor Native Americans.

Snyder declined to comment as he left the practice field at Redskins Park, the team’s training facility in Ashburn, following a morning practice Wednesday at an offseason minicamp. Snyder did not verbally acknowledge a reporter’s question on the the ruling, instead waving his hand and continuing to walk.

Team officials said there would be a statement on the ruling later in the day.

Bruce Allen, the team’s president and general manager, said as he walked off the practice field Wednesday: “When the statement comes out, you’ll get it.”

Asked whether the Redskins believe they can continue to use their team name under the circumstances, Allen said: “Did you read it?... We’re fine. We’re fine.”

But Gabriel Feldman, the director of the sports law program at Tulane University, said it’s possible the ruling could affect the view that league officials and owners of other NFL franchises have of the matter. The sport’s revenue-sharing system gives them all a stake.

“It’s a great question to raise,” Feldman said. “Maybe this is the tipping point for the rest of the league. This is a unique business.”

Staff writer Mark Maske contributed to this story.

Suzan Shown Harjo (mascot/profile)

The woman who was the driving force behind the cases that led the U.S. Patents and Trademarks Office to cancel the federal trademarks for the Washington Redskins Wednesday is 69-year-old grandmother and longtime Native American activist, Suzan Harjo. 

"Suzan has been fighting this since 1992. Native American people have been fighting this since 1972. ... The reason it has come up recently is because Suzan has worked really hard to bring this in the public eye," Amanda Blackhorse, one of the five Native American plaintiffs in the case filed before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, told Business Insider.

"She's just a tremendous woman. She's a strong Native American woman, and I'm so happy to have met her and to have been a part of all this because this is what we need to do," Blackhorse added. 

Harjo was born in Oklahoma and is of Cheyenne and Muscogee ancestry. In a conversation with Business Insider shortly after the U.S. Patents and Trademarks Office's decision was announced, Harjo said she became involved with political activism while she was still in school.

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Anti-***skins Commercial (mascot)

The Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation has bought airtime in seven major cities during halftime of tonight's NBA Finals Game 3 for a one-minute spot criticizing the Redskins team name, and calling for it to be changed. Here's the extended two-minute version of the "Proud to Be" video, produced by the National Congress of American Indians back in January, leading up to the Super Bowl.

The Californian tribe wouldn't say how much the airtime cost, only that it's a "significant investment." The spot will run in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Sacramento, San Francisco and Washington, and ran in Miami during Game 2. Seems like a good time to retire the "No Native Americans have a problem with the name" argument

Specter of racism still haunts US sports (mascot)

The furor surrounding comments attributed to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has again cast an unfavorable light on racism in American sport.

Sixty-seven years after Jackie Robinson famously broke baseball's "color line" when he went to bat for the Brooklyn Dodgers, the specter of racism still looms large over US professional sport -- from outspoken billionaire franchise owners to foul-mouthed players and bigoted fans who spew xenophobic nonsense behind the anonymity of Twitter avatars.

"Racism remains a problem throughout our society as a whole, and sports merely reflects that," said Ray Halbritter, who has been leading a campaign for the Washington Redskins to drop their racially charged name.

"The good news in the Sterling situation is that everybody acknowledges that his statements are unacceptable," Halbritter, representative of the Oneida Native American nation in upstate New York, told AFP.

Sterling, 80, has yet to apologize for a recording in which he reputedly asks a twenty-something female friend to stop bringing African-American friends to Clipper games and stop posting their photos on her Instagram feed.

"It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people. Do you have to?" says a male voice on the recording, which Sterling's estranged wife has confirmed as his.

"You can sleep with (black people). You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it... and not to bring them to my games."

President Barack Obama, the first African-American to be elected US president and also a well-known basketball fan, swiftly denounced the comments as "incredibly offensive racist statements," while basketball legend Magic Johnson questioned whether Sterling was fit to own a National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise.

- Redskins controversy -

Sterling, a real estate mogul estimated by Forbes business magazine to be worth $1.9 billion, is by no means the first US sports franchise proprietor to come under fire for racism.

In the 1990s, Marge Schott of baseball's Cincinnati Reds offended just about everyone with her casual use of racist language, her mocking Japanese accent, her admiration for Hitler and her belief that men with earrings were "fruity."

She sold her majority stake in the Reds in 1999, three years after she was banned by Major League Baseball from her close involvement in the team's day-to-day operations.

More recently, in the US capital, Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder has stubbornly resisted pressure from Native Americans and their allies to rebrand his National Football League (NFL) team.

"While Sterling has tried to retroactively disassociate himself with the abhorrent comments in question, Dan Snyder proudly defends his own continued promotion of a dictionary-defined racial slur," Halbritter said.

In November, in the NFL, the Miami Dolphins suspended Richie Incognito over the racially tinged harassment of a black team-mate, while in 2013 the Philadelphia Eagles suspended Riley Cooper after a video emerged of him using racially abusing a bouncer at a Kenny Chesney country music concert.

- 'Pervasive problem' -

Social media has meanwhile enabled some fans to anonymously churn out bigoted sentiments, such as in July 2013 when chart-topping Latino singer Marc Anthony sang "God Bless America" at baseball's All-Star classic.

"Welcome to america where god bless america is sung at our national pastime by a mexican," sneered one of many Twitter mentions that overlooked the fact that Anthony was born in New York to Puerto Rican, and thus American, parents.

Debra Nixon, a professor at Nova Southeastern University in Florida who specializes in diversity issues, said racism in American sports, and indeed throughout American society, remains "a pervasive problem."

"And it's going to keep happening until we really begin to do something constructive (about discussing race in America)," she told AFP, "as opposed to just having someone apologize until somebody else messes up."

(h/t to @GregGehr)

Cowboys-and-Indians (mascot/cultural appropriation/racism)

The University of Regina is responding after a photo depicting some members of the school's cheerleading team posing in stereotypical "cowboys and Indians" costumes sparked outrage over the web.

Some of the women in the Instagram picture are wearing plaid shirts and cowboy hats, while others have feathers, headbands and braids in their hair and dresses that are made to look like they're made from animal skin.

University of Regina President Vianne Timmons issued a written release Sunday acknowledging that the team was part of a social event Friday evening that included "culturally inappropriate themes and costumes."

Her statement went on to say that the team's coach has apologized. 

"Further steps will require that the team's coaches and team members discuss this matter as a group with the university's Executive Lead on Indigenization and take cultural sensitivity training," Timmons's statement said. "Once these discussions have taken place, the university will determine whether further disciplinary actions are required."

Kinesiology Dean Harold Riemer also expressed his apologies on behalf of the university Sunday afternoon. 

Full story at:

It's Not Racist! (mascot)

"It's Not Racist!" And Other Responses to Wahoo Protesters at Home Opener

Posted by Sam Allard on Fri, Apr 4, 2014 at 7:19 P

The zealot in redface pictured above, outside Progressive Field before the Indians' home opener this afternoon, was featured on Deadspin and instantly became the object of scorn and disbelief nationwide.  

Who would have the balls and the stomach, most reasonable Americans asked, to confront a person belonging to a specific race of people while dressed and garishly made up in a costume which mocks (or at the very least trivializes) that specific race of people, and then inform that person that he could not possibly be — and in fact, had no right to be — offended by the costume and the makeup . 

But that's precisely what happened. 

This guy, whose last name was Rodriguez and who fancied himself a kind of spokesman or public defender, strode over to the Anti-Wahoo protesters, many of them from the American Indian Movement, with a mind to spar.  (This was probably about 2 p.m., before the tallest tidal wave of endurance-pre-gamers descended from bars in the vicinity). He kept insisting that he was an Indians fan — an Indians fan! — (i.e. that his actions, thereby, weren't subject to the scrutiny of law or taste?) 

"It's Cleveland pride," he later told a Channel 5 reporter. "That's all it's about." 

When asked if he'd feel comfortable arriving to a game in blackface, you know, like if his team were the Cleveland Blacks, he repeated only that he was an Indians' fan. 

Though protesters have been railing against Chief Wahoo at opening day for decades, the recent vocal opposition by city councilmen and the "historic stance" of the Plain Dealer's editorial board has pushed the issue more centrally into local conversations. 

Photos from the Home Opener Anti-Wahoo Protest
Photos from the Home Opener Anti-Wahoo Protest Photos from the Home Opener Anti-Wahoo Protest Photos from the Home Opener Anti-Wahoo Protest Photos from the Home Opener Anti-Wahoo Protest Photos from the Home Opener Anti-Wahoo Protest Photos from the Home Opener Anti-Wahoo Protest Photos from the Home Opener Anti-Wahoo Protest Photos from the Home Opener Anti-Wahoo Protest

Photos from the Home Opener Anti-Wahoo Protest

Click to View 21 slides

The crazy thing about this afternoon's protest in general and the encounter above specifically was the lengths to which the Pro-Wahoo crowd is prepared to go (and here I primarily mean logical lengths) to deny the legitimacy of those offended by the logo.

The staunch, redfaced Rodriguez refused to acknowledge that the Native American man standing before him — Robert Roche, of the Apache Nation — could possibly take offense. Rorche literally told him he was offended by Chief Wahoo and the use of tribal feathers and redface, and Rodriguez just kept shaking his head.  

It's actually a shame for the civil Wahoo supporters that their comrades put on such an embarrassing and primitive display this afternoon. Only twice in three hours did Pro-Wahoo folks talk politely with the protesters about the root of their opposition and try to explain their own difficulties with the dehumanizing logo. (One man turned his Wahoo hat around as a little peace offering). 

For the most part, though, passers-by hurled insults. A handful of boozy risk-takers sporting "Keep the Chief" tees walked directly in front of those holding signs, to taunt. Others distributed individual middle-fingers to each protester while inviting them to fuck themselves. Others launched the familiar hate speech — "Go back to the reservation," etc.   

Here's a quick rundown of the rhetorical strategies at work today. (All of this I personally overheard.) 

1) De-legitimize the anti-Wahoo argument itself: 

"It's not racist!" 
—"No one thinks it's racist!" 
(Bold indeed, given the protest). 
—"Talk to Obama if you think it's racist." 
—"It's a fucking cartoon. Come on.

2) De-legitimize the anti-Wahoo protesters themselves: 

—"They're not even Indians." (Quite a few of the protesters weren't Native American. Nice work!) 
—"It's funny cuz they all look homeless."
—"Get a job!" 
—"Find something better to protest." 

3) Legitimize oneself. 

"I went to college!" (???) 
"That guy has four college degrees.(About a fellow, a white male, who looked Robert Roche in the face and told him that his life could not possibly have been affected by Chief Wahoo, then proceeded merrily down the "Fighting Irish" argument line, except with the Dallas Cowboys.) 
—(Holding Wahoo hat aloft, a la Catholic Priest) "I'm Cherokee!" 
I'm an Indian! I am! My grandfather would laugh at all of you.  

4) Legitimize team and logo by really original, clever comparison. 

"Where's PETA for the Detroit Tigers? Huh? Where's PETA?" 
"I'm Irish. You don't see me complaining about Notre Dame." (ENOUGH ALREADY.) 
"I guess the Dallas Cowboys should get rid of that team too, because I'm offended!" 

5) Baselessly and violently insult protesters:

—"Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you." 
—"You're DumbASSes. Hear me? DumbASSes!" 

6) Trivialize argument while shifting focus and blame. 

—"We're trying to celebrate an American pastime." (i.e. Stop ruining my day). 
"I'm a season ticket holder. Why don't you come to a game before you protest my team." (Many of the protesters were Indians' fans as well). 
—From above: "It's about Cleveland Pride. That's all it's about." 

7) Outright Wahoo-specific chants and noise-making.

—"Keep the Chief! Keep the Chief! Keep the Chief!
—(Obnoxious Indian battle cry ululation stuff.) 

Divergent Opinions in Wisconsin (mascot)

As the Wisconsin Senate votes Tuesday on rules for forcing schools to drop American Indian mascots, we learn they've raised divergent opinions for decades.

Credit Justin W. Kern
School mascot bill goes before the state Senate

Mascots in the U.S. originated more than 100 years ago, amid a blend of talismans, bat boys and entertainment during sporting events, according to Jennifer Guiliano at the University of Maryland. She’s just finishing a book on the subject. Guiliano is assistant director of the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities.

The bill before the state Senate would make it more difficult to force school districts to drop American Indian nicknames and logos. The measure would require people unhappy with a school mascot to collect a certain number of signatures in the district. Then the Dept. of Administration would review the case.

Right now, the Dept. of Public Instruction decides – and if only one person in the school district feels a mascot discriminates against Native Americans.