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Prominent Native American Voices Talk Landmark California R-Word Ban

Five prominent Native American voices respond to California's new ban on the use of the racial slur 'redskins' at its public schools.

California is now the first state in the country to have banned the use of the racial slur ‘redskins’ at its public schools.

Read what five prominent Native American voices have to say on the new law:

Amanda Blackhorse, Diné, won a case that stripped the Washington professional football team of its trademark registration:

Amanda Blackhorse. Photo courtesy Malcolm Benally

“[This] sends a strong message to the Washington team that Native people will not let go and be quiet, and we will not stand down. People all over the place are beginning to take a stand against the R-word, and it will continue to happen. I think the California ban is significant because the youth – Dahkota Brown – was behind this, and I think our youth are empowered more and more to take stands like this, so I’m really curious to see who will be next and what will happen next.”

Dakhota Brown, Miwok, shepherded the anti-R-word bill through the California legislature:

Dahkota Brown. Photo by Vincent Schilling, Indian Country Today Media Network

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“I know I’ll be in college by the time the change occurs, but I find peace in knowing my younger peers can obtain an education free from mockery and hold their head high with pride in their ethnicity.”

State Assemblymember Luis Alejo, the California legislator who sponsored the bill:

California State Assemblymember Luis Alejo. Photo courtesy

“As the state with the largest Native American population, I am proud to have authored this legislation and applaud Governor Brown for taking a stand against racial slurs used by our public schools. This bill is about respect. Respect for every culture and every person, and Native Americans should not be left.”

Change the Mascot leaders Ray Halbritter, Oneida Indian Nation Representative, and Jacqueline Pata, Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indian (in a joint statement):

Ray Halbritter, left, and Jacqueline Pata. Photos courtesy Holly Anne Joyner Giffin and

“The most populous state in the country has now taken a stand against the use of this insidious slur in its schools, and Change the Mascot expects more states to follow. This landmark legislation eliminating the R-word in California schools clearly demonstrates that this issue is not going away, and that opposition to the Washington team on this issue is only intensifying. The NFL should act immediately to press the team to change the name.”