Guest column: Trademark case dismissed, Blackhorse says movement lives on

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

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Kayenta resident Amanda Blackhorse began her fight against the Washington Redskins and what she considers its racist name in 2006. Photo/Amanda Blackhorse

It is very difficult for me to speak on this but it’s time. Our over 12 year-long legal battle in Blackhorse, et.al. vs. Pro Football was vacated Jan. 18. This ends over 25 years of litigation in our case and with the original case, Harjo vs. Pro Football. Given the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Matal vs. Tam, we knew this decision was imminent.

When I think back on the past 10 years and I think about all the trials and tribulations we have gone through... Through the losses and gains, I always conclude that no matter how terrible things get, we come back stronger, we fight harder, and nothing can stop us. The fight to take back our stolen identities is what keeps me going. We already won in my opinion and last week’s decision will not shut me up.

Thank you to Suzan Harjo’s leadership and her bold vision to take on a billion dollar industry, the NFL. To take on an NFL franchise is not an easy task! Challenging billionaires and multi-million/billion dollar franchises, as any person, especially for an Indigenous person is a daunting task but one she willing took on. Thank you to my co-plaintiffs who rode the tide as well, as young adults in 2006 we grew up with this case. Thank you to my awesome lawyer Jesse Witten for his heroic work on our case. Thank you to lawyer Jeffery Lopez as well as the team of lawyers and staff at Drinker, Biddle, and Reath in Washington D.C. who worked this case throughout the years. Without them, this would not be possible. They worked our case pro bono all these years. I am forever grateful for your committed to this cause.

Thank you to all our allies, accomplices, my friends, my family and my dearest daughters for your support and seeing this through. Thank you for keeping this fight going.

I wish I could give a more heartfelt and detailed thank you to the people in the movement but due to time constraints, I’m not able to right now. Perhaps a book would be a better place?

Much respect and blessings to those Native mascot slayers who are still fighting this issue in their communities. This movement lives on, our voices have spoken into the universe, and our vision continues to permeate. Ahéheé Nístago, shí ké, shí Dinéh!

Amanda Blackhorse, plantiff in Blackhorse et. Al. vs. Pro Football and Pro Football vs. Blackhorse et. al.

Phoenix Arizona

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