The lead petitioner in a federal trademark case against the Washington Redskins says that the NFL team was disingenuous when they honored the Navajo Code Talkers during Monday Night Football.
"As a Navajo person, I understand the symbolic meaning of our Navajo Code Talkers, and we will continue to honor them for their service," Amanda Blackhorse wrote in an email to USA Today Sports. "The Code Talkers deserved a more genuine honor, not just 30 seconds of media time so the Washington team can sugarcoat their racism."
Blackhorse also had a message for Dan Snyder. "Using four Navajo elders does not justify what they are doing and does not change anything. At the end of the day, the name is still inappropriate and disparaging toward Native American people.” She also said, “Our views have not changed. Nothing has changed. We are still offended and outraged that he would parade around our elders and use them as a shield against the growing number of people who want him to do the right thing."
The Code Talkers are a select group of Marines who created an unbreakable code based on the Navajo language during World War II. Four members of the American Code Talkers Association were honored during Monday night’s Washington San Francisco NFL game.
"We'll never change the name. It's that simple. NEVER — you can use caps,” Dan Snyder told USA Today Sports in May. Snyder wrote a letter to fans saying, “We are proud of our team and the passion of our loyal fans. Our fans sing 'Hail to the Redskins' in celebration at every Redskins game. They speak proudly of 'Redskins Nation' in honor of a sports team they love. “ He signed off saying that the team name will remain in place “for years to come.”
Blackhorse said by phone Wednesday to USA Today that she suspects Snyder would not have called the Code Talkers "Redskins" if he met them on Monday. Blackhorse is also mentioned in a story by the paper saying that she would ask Snyder to his face if he would call her a “Redskin." "I think the best way is to just not comment on that type of stuff," Snyder said. "I don't know her."
Blackhorse’s case was heard in March before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, part of the U.S. Patent Office, and a ruling is expected in coming weeks.
"Those are our elders," she said. "We honor our elders. I hope he did not use such a word to them, and I don't think he would."