Meet the Native Women Who Helped Beat One of the NFL’s Biggest Brands

By Jamilah King Jun 19, 2014

Amanda Blackhorse and Suzan Harjo, two Native activists who have been locked in an intense battle against the Washington, DC NFL team’s racist name, won a hard-earned victory this week. On Wednesday, an appeals board cancelled the team’s trademark and called the name "disparaging to Native Americans." While the move won’t prevent the organization from using its name, it’s a significant legal blow.

"Some people say it’s just political correctness run amok. But why don’t we deserve political correctness when other groups do?" Blackhorse asked USA Today. "We’re just trying to demand that respect. We’re America’s first people, and we deserve that respect."

Blackhorse was one of the five Native American plaintiffs in the case filed before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, a legal path that was paved more than two decades ago by Harjo. "Suzan has been fighting this since 1992. Native American people have been fighting this since 1972. … The reason it has come up recently is because Suzan has worked really hard to bring this in the public eye," Blackhorse told Business Insider"She’s just a tremendous woman. She’s a strong Native American woman, and I’m so happy to have met her and to have been a part of all this because this is what we need to do," Blackhorse added. 

Here’s more from Blackhorse:

"I have an interest in what we call historical trauma, the oppression that Native Americans went through and continue to go through has a tremendous effect on our mental health and our overall well being as people," Blackhorse said. "So, that is something that is my passion. … We need to work on healing our people and to also educate the public about the oppression that we have experienced and continue to experience, like these mascots."


Last year, Rob Capriccioso wrote at Indian Country Today about the intergenerational fight against the Washington, DC NFL team’s name. "There does seem to be an offsetting voice now to the fan base of the Washington team," Harjo told him. "Many understand that you can love the team, but hate the name."

You can also hear Blackhorse talk about her case in the unfortunately named segment posted above.