With a new bill signed by Governor Jerry Brown on Sunday, schools across California will no longer be allowed to use the word "Redskins" in school team or mascot names.
The bill gives schools until the beginning of 2017 to phase out any redskins-related naming and paraphernalia, the Los Angeles Times reports. There are currently four California high schools with the word in their team or mascot name.
Native American advocates have been pushing for Washington D.C.'s Redskins NFL team to change their name, claiming "redskins" is a racial slur, and a derogatory term for Native Americans. The NFL team is not only called the Washington Redskins, but also features the image of a Native American man's head as their logo.
The California move should signal to the NFL that it's time to change, said Ray Halbritter and Jackie Pata, leaders of the advocacy group Change the Mascot.
"This landmark legislation eliminating the R-word in California schools clearly demonstrates that this issue is not going away, and that opposition to the Washington team on this issue is only intensifying. The NFL should act immediately to press the team to change the name,” Halbritter and Pata said in a statement.
The owner of the Washington Redskins has said that he "will never change the name," although the team lost its trademark in a court battle in July because, the Federal Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruled, it is offensive to Native Americans.
But California's decision is a significant victory for Native Americans either way because, as FiveThirtyEight reported last year, 92% of sports team names that reference Native Americans are high school teams. Oregon and Wisconsin have also passed similar, but broader, bills banning the use of all Native American references from team names except with the approval of local tribes.