‘Fitting Name for Oppressors’: Washington Commanders Accused of Defamation by Native American Group in Federal Lawsuit

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 14: A Washington Redskins fan holds up a sign to keep the Redskins name before they play the Jacksonville Jaguars at FedExField on September 14, 2014 in Landover, Maryland. The Washington Redskins won, 41-10. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

A Native American group is filing suit against the Washington Commanders, accusing the NFL franchise of defamation and suppressing Native American history.

The suit, filed in the United States District Court of North Dakota on behalf of the Native American Guardian’s Association (NAGA), charges the Commanders and their Owner, Josh Harris with civil rights violations, civil conspiracy, and defamation in an alleged bid to smother Native American history.

NAGA garnered national headlines this year by running an extremely successful online petition that earned over 150,000 signatures.

Now, the Native American group is taking aim at the team that claimed to want to change its name to avoid offending Native Americans and letting them know that they’re offended: Not by the name Redskins, but by changing the name to Commanders.

And now they want to make the team pay for it.

NAGA is seeking $1.6 million in damages from the Commanders. In addition, the suit focuses on the powerful, Soros-backed National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) for aiding in the suppression of Native American history and the use of imagery that depicts Native Americans.

The suit highlights how the Washington Redskins were the only NFL team to honor “an actual Native American.”

“The name ‘Redskins’ carries deep cultural, historical, and emotional significance, honoring the bravery, resilience, and warrior spirit associated with Native American culture,” the suit states.

For their part, the Commanders believe NAGA’s claims are baseless.

“We believe the complaint is without merit, and we will address the matter in court,” a Commanders spokesperson told Fox News.

Josh Harris, a new owner of the Washington Commanders, delivers remarks during a press conference introducing the team's new ownership at FedExField...

Josh Harris, a new owner of the Washington Commanders, delivers remarks during a press conference introducing the team’s new ownership at FedExField on July 21, 2023, in Landover, Maryland. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

The claim that the Redskins and specifically their logo honor “an actual Native American” is not of passing significance. NAGA hopes to prove in court that the team’s positive portrayal of a historically significant Native American chief shows that the team was promoting Native American history and not engaging in anything hateful or demeaning.

As Fox News reports, “The franchise adopted the name Redskins in 1933 and, since 1972, the team logo was a portrait of celebrated late Blackfoot Chief John Two Guns White Calf.

“Among other contributions to Native American history, White Calf forced the federal government to recognize and honor Blackfoot tribal claims.

“The team’s original name and logo were inspired by 17th-century Lenni Lenape Chief Tammany, celebrated by colonial troops who fought the American Revolution as ‘the Patron Saint of America.'”

NAGA charges the Soros-backed NCAI with distorting that history and mounting a public misinformation campaign against the football team, which culminated in then-Owner Daniel Snyder changing the team’s name from Redskins to Football Team, and then eventually the Commanders.

“NCAI is on a mission to eradicate Native American history. The more teams that ignorantly bend, the more power NCAI retains,” the complaint states.

“The powerful few, do not get to have a monopoly on the narrative. They cannot eradicate Native American history from the hearts and minds of Americans.”

The suit doesn’t merely charge the NCAI with erasing Native American history. It ties Commanders Owner Josh Harris to a legacy of European-style oppression and the “erasing” of Native American history.

“Mr. Harris’s money and power rival the European countries that laid claim to this land hundreds of years ago. Like the men who conquered Native Americans, Josh Harris is erasing their history.”

“This lawsuit is a f*ck you to the NCAI and a f*ck you to the Commanders and to cancel culture,” said plaintiff attorney Chad LaVeglia.

“You’re not a monarchy. You don’t have absolute power and you’re not going to stomp the little guy.”


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