"Court documents the past two decades, filed by lawyers representing the NFL and its franchise in Washington, have classified Suzan Harjo as a "militant."
The 64-year-old American Indian writer, lecturer and curator thought hard about the label before she chuckled. She was sitting in her modest, two-story condo on Capitol Hill -- 17 years after she and six plaintiffs mounted a legal challenge to do away with the nickname of the franchise she calls "the Washington football team."
"The closest I've come to a militant?" said Harjo, who is Cheyenne and Muscogee. "I guess my father. Yep, he was very militant in World War II; he was a hero."
Her father, Freeland Douglas, a code talker, was plucked out of the Chilocco Indian School in Oklahoma to be part of the U.S. Army's 45th Infantry Division-- an all-Native regiment known as the Thunderbirds. He passed away in 2007 at the age of 85. For more than 60 years, he carried shrapnel in his legs from the Nazi army, which wounded him in a battle south of Rome.
This might come as an outright shock to the tailgate mob, the well-meaning fans fastening their burgundy-and-gold flags with the red-pigmented human for Sunday's home opener: But, as honor goes, Freeland Douglas demonstrated his by being awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star, not by having a team crudely named after his people."
Get the Story:
Mike Wise: Last Word on 'Redskins' Is Not Ours
(The Washington Post 9/18)
D.C. Circuit Decision:Pro-Football
(May 15, 2009)
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