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Washington Redskins can keep team name; Supreme Court refuses native Americans' suit

Seven native Americans had sued to force the Washington Redskins to change the team name. The Supreme Court on Monday let stand a ruling that their challenge came too late.

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Mascots of the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins appear during a 2005 game at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.

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A group of native Americans have lost their bid to force the Washington Redskins pro football team to change its name because they consider it to be a racial slur.

On Monday, the US Supreme Court, in a one-line ruling, refused to take up the case. The action lets stand a decision by a federal appeals court in Washington that the native Americans had waited too long to bring their challenge to the Redskins trademark, and thus forfeited any right to sue.

Some analysts view the case as political correctness run amok. But for nearly 40 years, native American organizations have been working to end the use of Indian names and symbols as sports mascots in the US – at high schools, colleges, and among professional teams.

They have had significant success at the college and high school levels, persuading officials that Indian names and mascots for sports teams are derogatory and demeaning to native Americans. For example, between 1991 and 2008, 11 high schools and two colleges discontinued the use of "Redskins" as their team name. They include Miami University in Ohio and Southern Nazarene University in Oklahoma.

Similar efforts at persuasion have been aimed at the Washington Redskins football team, dating from 1972. But the team insists that its trademark team name does not disparage native Americans. The team has invested millions of dollars to enhance and promote the trademark name on telecasts, in advertising, and on merchandise.

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