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United South and Eastern Tribes Oppose R-Word, Support Bill to Revoke Trademarks

United South and Eastern Tribes publicly came out in support of legislation that would strip the Washington football team of its trademarks.

The United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) on Monday endorsed a bill that would remove all trademark protections of the Washington NFL team as long as the franchise retains the R-word racial slur as its name.

Congressman Mike Honda introduced the legislation this week, entitled "The Non-Disparagement of Native American Persons or Peoples in Trademark Registration Act," in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill, which already has 26 co-sponsors, seeks to prevent any sports team from using a derogatory slur for Native Americans as its mascot and nickname.

“Congressman Honda has taken a bold stand against racism, discrimination and the continued denigration of Native Americans by introducing this legislation, which USET strongly supports,” said USET President Brian Patterson. “If the NFL’s Washington’s franchise is unwilling to change the offensive mascot then steps should be taken, wherever possible, to eliminate public funding and trademark protections for a league that persists in offending and insulting Native peoples.”

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The new House bill would retroactively cancel any existing federal trademarks and prohibit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) from issuing new trademarks that use the term “r-dskins” in reference to Native Americans. It will also formally declare the word “r-dskins” a disparaging term when used in reference to Native Americans and therefore cannot be trademarked.

USET will hold its Welcome Reception at 6 p.m. February 9. The reception will feature Congressman Honda and USET leadership, who will reaffirm USET’s strong opposition to the continued use of the R-word and other negative imagery and stereotypes. USET wishes to express support to Rep. Honda’s legislation that would remove the Washington football team of its name trademark protections. He will be provided podium time to make remarks. The reception will be held in Salon four at the Marriott Crystal Gateway in Arlington, Virginia.

USET is a nationally recognized non-profit, intertribal organization that collectively represents 26 member Tribes at the regional and national level. As a top organization addressing the issues facing Native Americans, USET has for years taken a leading role in demanding an end to the use of the racist R-word. Over the past two NFL seasons, USET and the national grassroots Change the Mascot campaign have garnered support from a diverse cross section of Americans including civil rights leaders, religious and human rights organizations, sports icons, political leaders from both parties and the President of the United States.

This week, USET will hold its annual Impact Week Meeting in Washington, D.C. The four-day event includes meetings with members of Congress and various government organizations about top issues facing Indian Country, as well as a variety of cultural activities and celebrations. 

Brandon Stephens is the development director with United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc.