We have previously discussed the controversy over the Redskins name. I have previously written about my disagreement with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office decision to rescind federal trademark protections for the Redskins as a racially disparaging name as well as the underlying law used to strip the team of its trademark protection. The law allows for a small administrative office to effectively dictate the outcome of a long simmering societal debate over the team name. More importantly, the standard for determining what names or words are disparaging remains dangerously undefined with striking contradictions as we have previously discussed in permitted and disallowed trademarks. One of the cases that I have discussed involves an Asian-American rock band called The Slants, which was also barred by the office. Now, an independent poll by the Washington Post has found that 9 out of 10 Native Americans say they are not offended by the Washington Redskins name. This is consistent with past polls going back years that have found that the vast majority of Native Americans do not object and are not offended by the name. In particular, a 2004 poll by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that same overwhelming result. Indeed, the numbers have not changed despite years of advocacy by a small fraction of Native Americans.
The survey involved 504 people across every state and the District. Notably, over 7 in 10 said they did not feel the word “Redskin” was even disrespectful to Indians. What is equally notable is that 8 in 10 said they would not be offended if a non-native called them that name.
Despite the results, the lead plaintiff in the challenge to the trademark, Suzan Harjo, 70, said that the results are meaningless and “I just reject the results.” Jarjo is a member of the Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee tribes.
Two other advocates took a different spin and commended Native Americans for being “resilient and [not allowing] the NFL’s decades-long denigration of us to define our own self-image.” Yet, Oneida Nation Representative Ray Halbritter and National Congress of American Indians Executive Director Jackie Pata insist that the fact that 90 percent of Native Americans do not view the name as offensive does not mean that it is not offensive.
Yet, other Native Americans are quoted in the article below as saying that they are proud of the name.
Two years ago, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s appeal board rule against the team on trademark protection and a district court has upheld the order. However, the Redskins have petitioned the Supreme Court to review the decision.
Source: Washington Post