California bans public schools from using 'Redskins' nickname

California public schools will no longer be allowed to use "Redskins" as a nickname for their sports teams under legislation signed by the state's governor this weekend.

The bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown Sunday will prevent the state's schools from using the term, which many Native Americans believe to be offensive, beginning in 2017. California is the first state to enact a law prohibiting the use of "Redskins" by athletic teams.

Democratic Assemblyman Luis Alejo of Watsonville told the Associated Press the name dates from a period in California history when bounty hunters were rewarded for slaying Native Americans and should not be dignified with school affiliations.

Only four schools in California still have teams or mascots called the Redskins. A federal panel ruled last year that the team trademark for NFL's Washington Redskins should be canceled, but the team is challenging the decision.

Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter and National Congress of American Indians Executive Director Jackie Pata released a statement attempting to use the California law to pressure the NFL's Redskins to change their name.

"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," the statement read in part.

Brown rejected separate legislation on Sunday that bans naming parks, schools and other public property after Confederate leaders.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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