Some Native Americans, understandably, have become outraged and exceedingly outspoken about their objection against the Washington Redskins’ racial connotations. Native American activists have fought tooth and nail to rid the franchise of this racial slur, but have been met with ignorant arguments and recurrent refusals. The Washington Redskin franchise has defended their name and mascot no matter what the cost, but both the media and the public has grown increasingly aware of the ignorance and racism behind such a seemingly innocuous term. However, although widely publicized, the fight still continues to this day.
The Redskins, as previously discussed, have used this racial slur as their name since 1933. They placed federal trademarks on the name in 1967, and, that same year, began to face protests by offended Native Americans. In the 1970’s, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruled that the name could be looked at as offensive by Native Americans. In 1992, a suit was filed by Native American activists, attempting to change the name at long last. In 1999, the team was temporarily stripped of its trademark, but they appealed the decision. The case was eventually brought before the Supreme Court in 2009, but the court refused to reconsider the trial. In a lower court, “in 2003, the trademark board overturned a ruling that stripped the Washington team of the Redskins trademark, in part because the plaintiffs had waited too long after coming of age to file their complaint.” (NPR, 2013) In other words, the activists had taken too long to “bring their assertion that the nickname is so racially offensive that it does not deserve trademark protection.” (Washington Post, 2009) However, even if they had lost the trial, the team would not have been forced to change their name, they simply would have lost their trademark rights. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board heard the case against the Redskins again earlier this year, in March. The Native American activists are hopeful that this case will be ultimately more successful than the last.
- No consensus among Indians on ‘Redskins’ name (sacbee.com)
- ‘Redskins’ must offend the ‘White Man’ because 90% of Native Americans are not (theglobaldispatch.com)
- Native American tribe seeks to force NFL Redskins name change (wqad.com)