New state bill would allow state native tribes to object to the use of offensive nicknames

It's a story that has gained traction recently, as the Cleveland Indians announced the team will do away with its "Chief Wahoo" mascot. Now, a local group is looking to make sure no teams here in Arizona show disparaging terminology or logos.

A new bill aimed at pushing Native American nicknames out of Arizona was announced at a rally Wednesday.

"This bill begins and ends with government facilities," said State Rep. Eric Descheenie (D).

The new bill is putting the target right on the Arizona Cardinals' matchup against the Washington Redskins next season.

"Our attempts to rid the Washington team of their racist trademark was a strategy to address a long-standing fight against Native American mascots, and to dismantle the institution that profits off native mascotting," said Amanda Blackhorse, the founder of Arizona to Rally Against Native Mascots.

Blackhorse has been on the front lines of the fight, pushing to get the Redskins trademark removed. She was with Democrats on Wednesday, who plan to introduce HB2499, which states that any of the states 22 tribes could formally object to the use of an offensive nickname.

"The only way we're going to get that wound to heal is to eliminate and abolish these types of racist symbols and signs from our society," said State Rep. Geraldine Peten (D).

If the law is triggered, it would prohibit the use of the name or logo inside any publicly funded stadium. That means the Cardinals, Coyotes and the Diamondbacks, who play in taxpayer-funded stadiums, would be on high alert when teams come to the Valley.

"It shouldn't matter if the team has been around for 80 years or 100 years," said Blackhorse.

"This is not about free speech," said State Rep. Descheenie. "This is about government speech."