California governor Jerry Brown announced over the weekend that he signed legislation that prohibits public schools in the state from using the name “Redskins.”
The California Racial Mascots Act prevents use of the name for a team or mascot, because of its offensive nature to Native Americans. California is the first state in the nation to prohibit use of the name. Currently, four schools in the state use the name, and they have until January 2017 to phase it out.
Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter and National Congress of American Indians Executive Director Jackie Pata, both leaders of the Change the Mascot advocacy group, issued a joint statement on the legislation calling for the NFL to force a change to the Washington Redskins team name.
“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,” the statement reads. “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 name on this issue is only intensifying. The NFL should act immediately to press the team to change the name.”
Part of the California Racial Mascots Act reads “Many individuals and organizations interested and experienced in human relations including the United States Commission on Civil Rights, have concluded that the use of Native Americans images and names in school sports is a barrier to equality and understanding, and that all residents of the United States would benefit from the discontinuance of their use.”
A federal judge ordered the cancellation of federal trademark registrations owned by the Washington Redskins in July. The team can appeal before the ruling takes effect.