Washington Redskins: Could Oregon Name Ban Revive Old Case?
Should the Washington Redskins be concerned about a name/logo/mascot change in the future?
Earlier this month, the Oregon Board Oregon State Board of Education voted 5-1 to adopt a rule prohibiting Oregon public schools from using Native American names, symbols, or images as school mascots. While this is at a low level, the move shows that there is a small, but emerging trend to back away from Native American names used commercially.
Amongst the names: “Redskins”. The real question is, will this decision spark other localities to do the same?
And is this new? No.
Twenty years ago, seven Native Americans brought a petition to the Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB), challenging six trademarks registered by the Washington Redskins. They claimed that the D.C. team’s name, logo, and accompanying marks were offensive and disparaging to them personally, and to Native Americans as an ethnic group, and sought to have the registrations for those marks cancelled. The case was ultimately dismissed by the D.C. Circuit Court.
So with a new ban in place making news, will this revive an old issue? In the world we live in where everyone’s trying to be as politically correct as possible, the answer to that question is a tossup. Native American names are a cornerstone in sports. In the NFL there are the Washington Redskins and the Kansas City Chiefs. In the National Hockey League, you have the Chicago Blackhawks. In Major League Baseball you have the Cleveland Indians and the Atlanta Braves.
Would all these teams have to change their names?
Would it show an evolution in our society? A day where we don’t use names of cultures and cultural slang for commercial use? Time will be the judge of that. Do the research yourself and just type in “Indians” and “Braves” and “Chiefs” and see what you get for sporting teams.
While it may not be an issue now, I’m sure this, like many PC-related news items will get national attention. They always do.
Ricky Allen is a Washington Redskins Blogger with Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @Ultimate Redskin