Attorney and Natives call ruling a victory

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Native Americans realize there is a long road ahead for a team name change, but many are celebrating nonetheless.

Jesse Witten represents the five plaintiffs who want the name of the burgundy and gold to change. Wednesday's decision was a huge victory toward that step.

"It's every positive emotion: Relief, happiness, can't believe it and finally it came today," said Witten.

The five Native Americans named in the lawsuit have waited eight years for this day.

Amanda Blackhorse writes: "It is a great victory for Native Americans and for all Americans. It has been a tough battle ever since. I hope this ruling brings us a step closer to that inevitable day when the name of the Washington football team will be changed."

Wilson Pipestem has been fighting the same battle for years. "It started when my 10-year-old son at the dinner table said are they making fun of us? At the time we lived in Falls Church. This is very good news, a positive decision for all Native people," said Pipestem.

The 1992 challenge that was overturned saying the plaintiffs waited too long after they turned 18, that technicality doesn't exist this time since the five of them filed when they were around the age of 18.

Also this decision feels different to many Native Americans.

"It's not just Native Indians but main stream society, players are seeing change in front of our eyes," said Pipestem.

"I think one of the big differences is social media and easier for people to get involved in public issues," said Witten.

Pipestem says a federal institution has made its decision and others have objected to the team name including 50 US senators, now it's time for players to be outspoken too.

Many know it could be years before the name actually changes but the ruling gives many Native Americans more hope it will happen.

"It's a matter of time for Dan Snyder and Roger Goodell to decide there must be a change and hopefully they'll listen to their better angels to do the right thing," said Pipestem.


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