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Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: October 4, 2023 01:00 PM
From: Representative Christopher M. Rabb and Rep. Maureen E. Madden
To: All House members
Subject: Protecting Native American Trademarks
With the name change of the Washington NFL team to the Washington Commanders, one small step has been taken to address the use of racist logos and team names in professional sports. Yet in our schools and shops, we still sell many clothes, coffee mugs, and other keepsakes that use Native American tribal names, patterns, and symbols supporting teams using Native American mascots. The profits from these sales support groups who have no Native American affiliation.
In recent years, Native American tribes have brought lawsuits against companies and brands like Jeep and Urban Outfitters who profit using their tribal names and cultural heritage, but which do not support their communities.
This forthcoming legislation would help to address the long-standing profiteering off Native American culture as well as addressing the sale of some Native American mascots by preventing the use of Pennsylvania state trademarks by non-Native American groups to claim Native American patterns and tribal names as well as other cultural heritage and intellectual property. It would also prevent their existing Native American trademarks in Pennsylvania from being renewed. Finally, it would make it easier for Native American tribes to prevent the misuse of their names and cultural property.
Pennsylvania’s original Native American communities are living, breathing cultures who most often do not benefit from goods that use their names, symbols, or other traditional property sold in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania does not allow the theft and sale of other goods, and we should not support the theft of Native American cultural property either. Similar provisions on cultural intellectual property have been included in the UN’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which the US ratified in 2016.
We have a special responsibility to ensure that our state and our laws do not support cultural theft and profiteering.
Please join us in sponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as HB1809