TIME Baseball

Native American Group Mounts $9B Lawsuit Against Cleveland Indians

Minnesota Twins v Cleveland Indians
Protestors voice their opinion about Cleveland Indians mascot Chief Wahoo outside Progressive Field on April 4, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. Jason Miller—Getty Images

"We’re basing it on a hundred years of disparity, racism, exploitation and profiteering”

A Native American advocacy group called “People Not Mascots” is seeking $9 billion in damages against Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians.

‘We’re basing it on a hundred years of disparity, racism, exploitation and profiteering,” Robert Roche, the group’s leader, told CBS News’ Cleveland affiliate. Roche decided to press the issue after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office stripped the Washington Redskins of its trademark last Wednesday, deeming the team name a “racial slur.”

The lawsuit will also target the team’s logo and mascot, Chief Wahoo. “It’s been offensive since day one,” said Roche. “We are not mascots. My children are not mascots. We are people.”

The campaign to remove Native American caricatures from team names and logos has built up steam in recent weeks, with 50 Senators petitioning National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell to change the name of the Redskins. The Redskins vowed to appeal the USPTO ruling.

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