DEVILS LAKE, ND (KXNET) — A North Dakota-based group known as the Native American Guardian’s Association (NAGA) is suing the NFL’s Washington Commanders football team for defamation, an outgrowth of NAGA’s efforts to restore the former Redskins name and logo to the team.
Located in Devils Lake, NAGA says the suit highlights, “the coordinated and willful effort by the Washington Commanders and its leaders to defame NAGA to external parties, both in writing and verbally, calling NAGA (a federally-registered 501c3) a ‘fake’ group.”
The Native American Guardian’s Association was officially formed in 2017 as a nonprofit. The NAGA board members are Native Americans with tribal affiliations across the United States.
“This coordinated effort by the Commanders to defame NAGA in their attempt of cancel culture meets the legal requirements of defamation, among other damages,” says NAGA Attorney Chad Laveglia. “Given the Commanders are an NFL Team with extensive resources, a basic Google search that anyone can perform proves NAGA is, in fact, a legitimate entity. The Commanders’ alleged intent to defame and slander them is actionable.”
On August 7, NAGA issued a letter to the Washington Commanders, in conjunction with a Change.org online petition, asking for an open dialogue with the team and sharing statistics NAGA argued showed Native Americans were not offended by the moniker “Redskins.” NAGA says the team never responded to the letter or the petition supporting reinstatement of the “Redskins” name and logo.
In its lawsuit, NAGA says the Washington football team is working with the National Congress of American Indians, a nonprofit group NAGA claims is a lobbying organization based in Washington, D.C., not an official tribal organization and is a “‘self-proclaimed’ voice of Native Americans.”
According to the lawsuit, “NAGA’s view is that the name ‘Redskins’ carried deep cultural, historical and emotional significance, honoring the bravery, resilience, and warrior spirit associated with Native American culture. It was never intended as a derogatory or offensive term but as a symbol of respect and admiration.”
The defamation lawsuit was filed on September 25 in North Dakota District Court.
Neither the Washington Commanders or the National Congress of American Indians have responded to the suit.
You can read the full lawsuit document here.