Battle Over Redskins Name Goes Before Federal Trademark Trial and Appeal Board


The long-running battle over the Washington Redskins name gets a restart today, Thursday, March 7, when a group of Native Americans goes before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board in Washington, D.C, to argue that the franchise should lose their federal trademark protection, based on a law that prohibits registered names that disparaging, scandalous, contemptuous or disreputable.

Leading the move against the use of the term redskins is Susan Shown Harjo, who has spent nearly a third of her life fighting the use of the nickname.

According to CBSDC and the Associated Press, Redskins general manager Bruce Allen said last month that it is “ludicrous” to think that the team is “trying to upset anybody” with its nickname, which many Native Americans consider to be offensive.

That’s beside the point, Harjo told CBSDC/AP. She’s never suggested that the Redskins deliberately set out to offend anyone. But that doesn’t mean that people aren’t offended.

“It’s just like a drive-by shooting,” Harjo said Wednesday. “They’re trying to make money, and not caring who is injured in the process — or if anyone is injured in the process. I don’t think they wake up or go to sleep dreaming of ways to hurt Native people. I think they wake up and go to sleep thinking of ways to make money — off hurting Native people.”

Stay tuned for updates on today's proceedings in D.C.



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Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
I knew your web site would never post my remark, that's how you leftist operate, you only want to hear your side and never debate on ideas. Like I said yesterday, why not ban the word "cowboys" or "49ers" for killing more indians then you can imagine. how far can we go? grow up and be secure in who you are, stop acting as a victim and call everything "racist"

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
Historical context is needed. The term "redskins" was descriptive, not ethnic or racist in nature. The Eastern woodland Native Americans of the 1710-1790 era often used the color red to project strength, bravery or value. Warriors would paint their faces and chests red before battle to visually indicate and reinforce their courage. They would even paint captives red to show their value, whether they were "white" captives or from other tribes. Native American skin is not red at all, but may be perceived to be darker than "white" skin or lighter than "black" skin, that is, brown or tanned. Many 18th century European settler personal accounts used the descriptive term “copper skinned” and even “yellow skinned” when describing unpainted Native Americans. The name “redskins” appears once on page 239 in The Deerslayer, written by James Fennimore Cooper in 1841 about events in the 1700s, as a matter-of-fact term rather than as a pejorative or insult. British colonists referred to attacking warriors as "redskins" not as an insult, but because that is what they saw coming at them during a battle. Instead of the “redcoats are coming,” the alarm was the “redskins are coming.” When the name was adopted in Boston the owners explained their desire to honor Native Americans by reflecting their strength, resolve and courage in the team’s football players. The name was intended to be flattering, not insulting. Intent is important. Nevertheless, the team must consult with Native Americans to ensure no use feathers, headdresses or other items that have religious or ceremonial implications. I see no reason why the name cannot continue to be used, carefully and respectfully. If it must be changed, I suggest a George Washington era related name like Presidents, Surveyors, Provincials, Continentals, Minutemen or Colonials, if others who may have those names trademarked agree. Maybe even the Washington Federals, for which I was once a season ticket holder.

carlos lane's picture
carlos lane
Submitted by carlos lane on
First and formost give it up harjo, its a lost cause and a stupid fight that you and your indian nations are portraiting that this is the old days when the federal government came and took your land from out of you.this isn't indians and cowboys days anymore.!!! When I think of The REDSKINS and the name which it stands for I think of Washington D.C. The founder Mr.Marshall Sammy Baugh,George Allen the 1970's and Joe Gibbs John Riggins Dexter Mannley Dough Williams Darrell Green and Art Monk the 1980's and so on todays REDSKINS players as well. This coming from a Native American from South America NOT OFFENDED BY THIS ISSUE AT ALL BY ANY MEANS.!!!!!!! Your drive by shooting example it stupid and very weak and ignorrant statement to say. Hello their are 31 other teams doing the same thing as well MAKING MONEY for their franchises last I thought that the same boat that the REDSKINS are in as well you can not isolate one team because of a name. IT A BUSINESS FROM DAY ONE DATING BACK TO 1932. Also why haven't I heard a cry out from your indian nations on this issue I have been a fan of The REDSKINS since December 29,1979 and they just happened to be playing the cowboys on that day. My hatered for the cowboys is also a strong reason I fell in LOVE with The REDSKINS as well.Not what their LOGO on the side of their helmet looked like or what it stands for. Like I stated awhile back its the area Washington,players and coaches,and the team colors BURGUNDY AND GOLD that has and will ALWAYS draw ME to this team THE WASHINGTON REDSKINS.!!!!!!! If you Harjo want to get back to me feel free to do so at Have a good day and hope to hear from you if you chose to. HAIL TO THE REDSKINS.

Bill W.'s picture
Bill W.
Submitted by Bill W. on
As someone with native roots who was raised in the Southern United States, I grew up watching the Washington Football team without much thought to what the name really meant. After all, my skin was mostly white so why should the name "Redskins" be of concern to me? It has only been in recent years that the true meaning of this name has really hit me and how derogatory it really is. My Southern neighbors would certainly no longer accept "Black Skins" or "Slant Eyes" as a marker for any sports team, but they ignore the most hateful reference to native americans. I don't think there is any way this wrong will be righted in the near future, but it's important that the fight continue. As for the Anonymous commenter who wants everybody "grow up and be secure in who you are", I would suggest to my white brother that he needs to realize it's much easier to be "secure" when you are in the majority and your race is making all of the rules that affects everyone else. Take a walk on the other side of the tracks sometime and see how secure you feel.

Mahto's picture
Submitted by Mahto on
Well being a thing I do find offensive is people trying to make statements and/or justify how the term is not racist, etc. I mean thats like trying to tell someone that their feces doesn't stick. Having stated that, I want to state that, being Native I really don't and am not offended by the name. I live on a Reservation and am a PROUD DAKOTA WICASA. We as people have faaar more important issues to deal with. We really do...changing the name of a football team, is that in some way going to enhance our quality of life. Being on and from a reservation I think not. Its not going to do a damm thing for us. NOW.....ALL YOU IGNORANT PEOPLE WHO ARE DEFENDING THIS NAME....if you want this so bad lets do a tradeoff...keep the name. But all of you...sign a petition that helps us with regaining our landbase. Massacre sites...if all you pitched in and helped us get back these sites...or signed a petition to help us with the buffalo situation we have here in Montana. Than yeah, but don't try to tell us a piece of ***T don't smell like a piece of ***T when thats what is smells like. Thats being ignorant....just my two cents

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
there is nothing disparaging about a picture of a proud brave. more importantly the time and effort spent on this you could have accomplish something worth while for our right s water rights,health and education, but no you championed the removal of a picture that reminds people that native Americans are a strong and brave people

Jillian Pappan's picture
Jillian Pappan
Submitted by Jillian Pappan on
I am one of the petitioners in the new lawsuit. I have read all the comments. My reasons for filing the suit are simple. A team in the nations capital should not reflect the blatant racist and bloody era of the past. Which in the 1930s was the sentiment in the United States towards all natives. It is a term origami coined because the untied states had a policy of extermination. Do your research, not just the surgery coated stuff. Natives where hunted for there akin, hunters where paid in gold for hands, feet, scalps and what ever pieces of natives they could the United States government. Would you tell someone who suffered at nazi concentration camps to get over it? Or deny them there restitution? Millions of men, woman and children where killed for being in the way of the American dream. People like to forget this land is stained in blood. What in anyway makes anyone with an ounce of common sense or decently would think that word is honorific or appropriate symbol for Native uAmericans? The image and words are insulting and I refuse to be told its not a big deal or racist by someone arguing for cowboys and 49's. WE ARE A PEOPLE! Human beings, NOT MASCOTS used for the sport of fanatics. By the United States own patent and trademark laws, the term should not even have been approved. My most important reason for doing this is because, I believe it's wrong and I'm strong enough to stand up and say it. Yes, Indian country has many issues to be championed. And some very real things happen on the reservation everyday some deem more worthy of my time. But I have the courage of conviction to stand up for what I believe in. The ultimate goal is to prevent them from making money of racial slurs and images depicting stereotypical ideas of Natives.