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

Indian Country Today Media Network Staff

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.”