Navajo Nation officials support Redskins trademark cancellation

A board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark office recently overturned a ruling that said the Washington Redskins could no longer hold trademarks for the team name because the term is offensive to Native Americans. Photo/Keith Allison via flickr/Creative Commons

A board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark office recently overturned a ruling that said the Washington Redskins could no longer hold trademarks for the team name because the term is offensive to Native Americans. Photo/Keith Allison via flickr/Creative Commons

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - The Navajo Nation filed an amicus brief with the Fourth Circuit in Pro Football versus Amanda Blackhorse, et al., urging the court to affirm the cancellation of the "Redskins" trademark on its team name.

The trademark was cancelled in 2014 by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board based on evidence that the trademark was disparaging to Native Americans.

The decision was upheld by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Pro-football, Inc., appealed the case to the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, where it is currently pending.

The Navajo Nation filed its brief asserting that a substantial number of Navajo people find Pro-Football's trademark disparaging. The Nation cited resolutions passed by the Naabik'iyati Committee (the Navajo Nation Council's committee of the whole), the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission and the Diné Medicine Men's Association, which oppose the use of the term Redskins and other disparaging references to Native Americans in professional sports franchises.

The Nation's position reflects its concern for the health and well-being of its people, particularly for their mental health and particularly with respect to Navajo youth. The Nation urged the court to affirm the decision of the district court that the Redskins trademark may disparage Native Americans and must be cancelled.

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez voted in support of the Naabik'iyati Committee resolution opposing the name when they were both council delegates. The vice president co-sponsored the legislation.

Nez said that the Begaye-Nez administration is committed to empowering the Navajo people and American Indians across the country.

"We met with Amanda Blackhorse at the Navajo Nation Washington office in July 2015 and applauded her federal court victory that cancelled the team's trademark registration," Nez said. "By submitting this amicus brief, we continue to support her fight against racial discrimination in the NFL."

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