So this new case was begun in 2006 by a different group of Native Americans, with ages ranging from 18 to 24 at the time it was filed. For various reasons, it’s taken seven years for it to get this far. It’s now been 21 years since Harjo, now 67, filed the original case.
“It’s not what I do every breathing hour, but it’s been that long since I’ve become a thing rather than a person,” said Harjo, who is president of the Washington-based Morning Star Institute, an advocacy group. “By that, I mean I’m the ‘Harjo case.’ And people talk to me sometimes, saying, ‘Well, in Harjo, da-da da-da da-da.’ It is a little startling.”
The motive is to force Redskins owner Dan Snyder into a change by weakening him financially. Redskins lawyer Robert Raskopf said during the previous case that the team would suffer “every imaginable loss you can think of” if it no longer had the exclusive marketing rights to its name.
A Redskins spokesman said the team would have no comment Wednesday. Snyder has always vowed not to change the name, and the team has said that it is meant to honor Native Americans, not ridicule them. Allen said last month that a change isn’t being considered.
“There’s nothing that we feel is offensive,” Allen said. “And we’re proud of our history.”
The name debate has generated off-and-on discussion in the nation’s capital over the decades, but there’s been a renewed momentum in recent weeks. The Redskins were denounced time and again at a daylong symposium at the Smithsonian last month, and politicians and local columnists have since either expressed reservations about the name or condemned it outright.
“You stack up more and more, greater support,” Harjo said.
Previous predictions of an impending change, however, have not borne fruit. In 1998, while pursuing the first case, Harjo said: “I fully expect these names to be a thing of the past in 10 years. I think that will happen whether or not we win this suit.”
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