Native American group sues Washington Commanders for defamation

The suit follows messages from a Commanders salesman claiming the group is "fake."

Published: September 25, 2023 4:43pm

The Native American Guardians Association (NAGA) has sued the Washington Commanders football team for defamation over claims from an employee that the organization is not a legitimate entity.

NAGA has advocated that the Commanders revert to their prior team name of "Redskins," which the franchise abandoned amid concerns that the term was a slur against Indian groups. The suit names owner Josh Harris, sales representative Matthew Laux, and the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), whom they say have collectively worked to disparage NAGA. The suit demands $1.6 million in damages, Fox 11 reported. The suit follows messages from Laux claiming the group is "fake," according to the Washington Examiner.

 NAGA contends that the team has effectively challenged the Native American status of its group's members, saying the retort was "attacking the very identity" of NAGA members.

"This coordinated effort by the Commanders to defame NAGA in their attempt of cancel culture meets the legal requirements of defamation, among other damages," NAGA attorney Chad Laveglia said. "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. We are thankful for the whistleblowers that have come forward and we anticipate many more will."

NAGA insists that the removal of the "Redskins" name constituted "erasing" history and the term itself is not in fact a slur. The organization has launched a petition seeking to revert to the old name, which has roughly 132,000 signatures as of press time.

"The name 'Redskins' carries deep cultural, historical, and emotional significance, honoring the bravery, resilience, and warrior spirit associated with Native American culture." the petition reads. "It was never intended as a derogatory or offensive term but as a symbol of respect and admiration."

"Changing the name abruptly disregards the positive legacy that the Redskins name has built over the years and disorients the passionate fans who have invested their emotions, time, and unwavering support in the team," the group insists.

The suit comes after the NFL in July approved the sale of the team to Josh Harris, who purchased the franchise from Dan Snyder. The Commanders adopted their current name in 2022. They eliminated the Redskins moniker in 2020 and played as the Washington Football Team in the time inbetween.

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter.

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