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Lawsuits & Litigation

Controversial Native American Organization Sues Washington Commanders Over “Redskins” Name Change

— September 26, 2023

In their lawsuit, the Native Americans Guardian Association claims that the Washington Commanders are neglecting indigenous opinions by abandoning their longstanding “Redskins” name and mascot.

A Native American organization has filed a lawsuit against the Washington Commanders, accusing the football team of conspiring to suppress indigenous history.

According to FOX News, the lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Native American Guardians Association, or NAGA.

In their complaint, NAGA attorneys claim that the Commanders and their owner, Josh Harris, are liable for misconduct including defamation, conspiracy, and assorted civil rights violations.

Earlier this summer, NAGA wrote and hosted a “viral” petition demanding that the Commanders reclaim their original name, the Redskins. The petition obtained about 150,000 signatures.

“Commanders,” the lawsuit says, “is a fitting name for oppressors.”

The organization is also seeking about $1.6 million in damages, as well as “a seat at the table to share Native American history.”

The Native American Guardians Association also criticized the National Congress of American Indians, accusing it of encouraging the erasure of indigenous identities.

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

A photograph from a 2022 game between the rebranded Washington Commanders and the Philadelphia Eagles. Image via Flickr/user:All-Pro Reels. (CCA-BY-SA-2.0). (source:

The Redskins, attorneys say, were “the only team in the National Football League (NFL) to honor an actual Native American.”

FOX News notes that NAGA repeatedly emphasized that the Redskins’ name and logo were inspired by actual tribal leaders, despite the National Congress of American Indians’ claims to the contrary.

The Redskins had, for instance, used a portrait of the late Blackfoot Chief John Two Guns White Calf.

White Calf, writes FOX News, forced the federal government to recognize and respect Blackfoot tribal claims.

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

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

NCAI has since defended its initiatives.

“We have not reviewed the lawsuit by the Native American Guardians Association and therefore can’t comment on the allegations at this time,” NCAI said in a statement. “Since 1944, the National Congress of American Indians has and will continue to remain steadfast in our commitment to defend and strengthen tribal sovereignty and ensure that the voices of Tribal Nations are heard.”

[writer’s note: NAGA was founded in 2017 and has almost exclusively pursued litigation to “reclaim” the names of sports teams it feels has been “erased” by so-called “cancel-culture.” However, critics of the organization have claimed, alternatively, that it is either not Native-controlled organization or that is not otherwise representative of prevailing Native sentiment toward certain social issues]


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