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NATIVE AMERICAN LEGAL ACTION SEEKS ABANDONMENT OF WASHINGTON REDSKINS NAME

 NATIVE AMERICAN LEGAL ACTION SEEKS
 ABANDONMENT OF WASHINGTON REDSKINS NAME


Broad National Coalition Challenges Federal Trademark Registrations,
 Asserts "Redskins" Offensive to American Indians
 WASHINGTON, Sept. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Seven prominent Native American leaders, representing a broad cross-section of American Indian life, today filed a federal administrative law action with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) against the Washington Redskins football organization, seeking to cancel federal registration -- and protection -- of the trademarked term "Redskins." Announced at simultaneous news conferences in Minneapolis; Santa Fe, N.M.; and Washington, D.C.; petitioners for the group said it is their hope to remove the federal government's imprimatur from the use of the name and to convince the organization to drop the name in favor of one that does not offend American Indian peoples.
 Suzan Shown Harjo, one of the petitioners and president of The Morning Star Foundation, a non-profit American Indian advocacy group sponsoring the action, said she hopes attention given the filing and subsequent litigation will help mainstream America better understand that American Indian people are truly offended by the term "Redskins." "It is the most derogatory term that exists for Native American peoples. America -- and the Redskins -- have been on notice for some time," she said. "But it appears nobody has been listening. It's our hope that this legal action will convince the Redskins organization and others that terms like this are unacceptable and would never be tolerated if applied to other ethnic or racial groups, or to any other segment of American society."
 According to Stephen R. Baird, an attorney with the national law firm of Dorsey & Whitney, representing The Morning Star Foundation on a pro bono basis, the legal basis for the action is based on federal law prohibiting certain terms for federal registration. "Federal trademark law -- and related case law -- clearly prohibit trademark registration of words that are offensive or disparaging," he said. "Because the word 'redskin' has historically and is still commonly used as a pejorative, derogatory term, the challenged registrations of the Washington Redskins should not have been granted and are subject to cancellation."
 The term "redskin" appears in each of the registered trademarks being challenged by the group.
 Vine Deloria, Jr., Esq., a citizen of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, noted author and professor of history at the University of Colorado, explained that he and the other petitioners represent a broad cross section of American Indian culture and politics. "This is not just a disenfranchised few calling for something only a handful would agree with," he said. "While American Indians, like other groups, are diverse in their views, most share a deep feeling of offense at terms like redskins. Enough is enough. We don't want future generations of Indian children to bear this burden of discrimination."
 Manley A. Begay, Jr., of the Navajo Nation, said, "A society which permits discrimination in the sports arena is going to overlook it in the marketplace. That is precisely the situation of Native American people in society today. We should not be the poorest people in America, but we are. We should not be the only remaining targets of slurs in sports, but we are." Begay is executive director of the National Executive Education Program for Native American Leadership at Harvard University and of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development of the John F. Kennedy School of Government.
 Other tribal leaders not directly involved in the legal challenge offered their support as well. Gaiashkibos, chairman of the LacCourte Oreilles Chippewa Tribe in Wisconsin and president of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the oldest and largest American Indian organization representing approximately 150 tribal governments said, "This action is needed to help end offensive stereotyping of Native Americans. If we could stop racial and cultural slurs in sports, then we'd have a better chance of stopping racism that keeps us in poverty and ill health and keeps our treaty rights under attack," said Gaiashkibos. "NCAI and most of the tribes have called for an end to this kind of treatment in resolutions and public statements over many decades. This is a proper and effective forum to deal with this issue and to urge the federal government to say it's not okay for the Redskins to discriminate against us."
 Norbert S. Hill, Jr., oneida and executive director of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, said that his Boulder, Colo.- based national organization had "joined the NCAI, the National Indian Education Association, the United Indian Nations in Oklahoma and others in calling for this kind of action. We are all doing it to help the kids. They shouldn't have to adjust their lives and behavior to accommodate racism. That leads to low self esteem, to alcoholism, to self-destructive and dysfunctional acts, sometimes even to suicide and suicide attempts. At worst, it's life threatening. At best, it's an unnecessary barrier to positive achievement and opportunities."
 "The bottom line," said Harjo, "is that when someone tells you they are offended, you should listen. So we are saying it again, this time forcefully: The term 'redskins' and similar expressions tending to stereotype us are offensive. It would be tolerated by no other group. And now, we won't tolerate it either."
 The petition to cancel the Redskins' federal trademark registrations will be heard by a panel of the Patent and Trademark Office's Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB). The other petitioners filing the action include: Raymond D. Apodaca, governor of the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and area vice president and chairman of the Human and Religious Rights Committee of the National Congress of American Indians; William A. Means of the Oglala Sioux Tribe of Pine Ridge, executive director of the American Indian Opportunity Industrialization Center and president of the International Indian Treaty Council; and Mateo Romero of the Cochiti Pueblo, a noted American Indian artist, graduate of Dartmouth College, and master of fine arts candidate at the University of New Mexico.
 At a news conference in Santa Fe, Romero said, "It is time for the younger Indian people to join their elders in open opposition to racist names, images and mascots. We cannot project our own positive images through the generations and layers of stereotypes and negative images projected on us." Romero, who is a 25-year-old painter and printmaker, was joined by other artists, students and teachers for his press conference.
 Speaking at another simultaneous press conference at the Heart Of The Earth Survival School in Minneapolis, William Means, the school's former executive director, said, "We've just got to stop the perpetuation of these stereotypes. Too many of our kids see that stuff and begin to believe it, begin to make fun of themselves as a defense mechanism, and begin to feel second rate or like they don't exist at all as real human beings."
 In Washington, D.C., Apodaca, whose pueblo is in the El Paso area of Texas, said, "If the 'Redskins' were doing this to any other ethnic or religious group or nationality, there would be a deafening outcry. Because we are Indians, with a small and invisible population and a small national voice, our outcry has not been heard. We are asking nothing more than every other group of people in America has demanded and gotten -- to be treated with dignity and respect."
 -0- 9/10/92
 /CONTACT: Greg R. Barron or Nicole Dousette, both of G.R. Barron and Company, 612-645-8627, for The Morning Star Foundation/ CO: The Morning Star Foundation; The Washington Redskins ST: Washington, D.C.; Minnesota IN: SU:


KH -- MN001 -- 8000 09/10/92 12:01 EDT
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