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Stewart trademark move angers Indians

KATONAH, N.Y. -- Martha Stewart's attempt to trademark "Katonah" -- a move that has already riled some of her village neighbors -- has now upset some American Indians because the name originally belonged to a 17th-century chief.

Two members of the Ramapough Lenape Indian Nation, which claims Chief Katonah as its own, have joined the anti trademark battle being waged by the Katonah Village Improvement Society.

And other American Indian leaders yesterday said that Stewart's trademark application was offensive.

"If I wanted to trademark 'Martha Stewart' and put out a line of tea towels, she would have me in court very quickly," said Suzan Harjo, president of the Morning Star Institute, a national advocacy group. "She'd be saying, 'You can't use my name, that's valuable, that belongs to me.' "

Clint Halftown, the federally recognized representative for the Cayuga Nation, said, "If it's being done for profit, then of course it's offensive. Of all the names in the world and all the words, why can't she pick something out that's not offensive?"

Stewart bought a 153-acre estate in Katonah, 40 miles north of New York City, for $16 million in 2000 and returned there in 2005 after five months in prison. Her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, wants to trademark "Katonah" for home furnishings, paints, and other products, some of which are already on sale. Diana Pearson, a spokeswoman for the domestic doyenne, has said Stewart "seeks to honor the town and the hamlet by using the word Katonah."

Pearson declined yesterday to comment on Indian opposition.

The village says Chief Katonah led the Ramapough Indians in the New York-New Jersey area and in 1680 sold land to white settlers.

Many American Indian names are used for consumer products, from Mohawk carpets to Pontiac cars. John Cuti, a lawyer for Stewart, told the Village Improvement Society in February that the trademark "will not stop Katonah residents -- or anyone else -- from using the name Katonah exactly as they always have."