KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The federal patent and trademark office is refusing to register a trademark for the term “Redskins” because the agency claims the word is offensive and derogatory. Some are now saying the same argument could be made about use of the word “Chiefs.”
The feds said “no” after a company that sells pork rinds wanted to trademark the phrase “Redskins Pork Rinds.”
A law professor at George Washington University claims the ruling may lead to additional efforts by the federal government to pressure the Washington Redskins football team into changing its name and logo.
The trademark office could revoke several trademarks previously granted to the NFL team.
Leaders at the Heart of America Indian Center are applauding the federal action and say the Kansas City Chiefs may need to re-evaluate their situation because cultural norms are changing.
“I hear that all the time,” said Moses Brings Plenty, cultural liaison at the Indian center. “Someone won’t know me by my name or they won’t call me as an individual, they would say, ‘Hey, chief.’ We hear that all the time. It’s sad because it’s degrading to our real true chiefs that are still existing today.”
Brings Plenty believes the Chiefs should reconsider the use of Native American stereotypes at team events.
“What I see with Warpaint, what I see with artificial headdresses, what I see with the tomahawk chop and what I see with an American Indian drum that was just recently purchased. Made by a non-native. We have native individuals who could make drums.”
There’s also a campaign by the Federal Communications Commission to require broadcasters to refrain from saying the word “Redskins” on the air, particularly during daytime hours. Former FCC commissioners have been lobbying to have the term declared “indecent.”
Brings Plenty agrees the word is a racial slur, the most derogatory term a Native American can be called.
A spokesman for the Kansas City Chiefs declined to comment on this issue.
Many agree that the word “Chiefs” does not carry the same negative stigma as “Redskins.”
And some say the origin of Kansas City’s football team name is not connected to Native Americans, but rather a tribute to Kansas City’s mayor at the time the team came here. H. Roe Bartle was known as “The Chief.”