ASHBURN, Va. (WJZ) — The Washington Redskins are fighting for their name in court. The team, stripped of its trademark, is suing to get it back. This, as a new video emerges defending the name.
Christie Ileto talks to local Native Americans angered by the attempts to keep the Redskins name around.
A member of the Lumbee tribe, the round dance is part of nine-year-old Khalil’s culture.
“It makes me feel happy that I’m Native,” Khalil said.
The name “Redskin,” he says, does not.
The Washington Redskins brand is worth millions. On Thursday, the team defended it in federal court after the U.S. Patent Office canceled the team’s “disparaging” trademark.
“It’s not about anything except money. That’s what this entire thing is about,” said activist Gregg Deal.
It’s the latest chapter amidst mounting pressure to change the team name.
This week, team supporters released a video, saying the name celebrates Native Americans.
“Redskins. It’s a powerful name. It’s a warrior name,” the video said.
Kerry Hawk Lessard with the Shawnee tribe says the video exploits her community.
“Native Americans have some of the most crushing poverty imaginable. If you offer very poor people money to say what you want them to say, they will,” she said.
Redskins team owner Dan Snyder vows the name stays, saying many tribes don’t find it offensive.
“The real issues are real life issues, real life needs,” said Snyder.
But for many, it’s personal.
“The problem with the logo… it sets up an image of who we are. And we can’t escape that,” Lessard said.
That’s why Lessard says programs at Native American Lifelines are crucial.
“We try to teach them to be very self assured in who they are, to know their history,” she said.
For kids like Khalil, that means “Redskin” is part of the past–not the future.
The team says they’re asking the court to look at constitutional issues like free speech.
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