MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Ahead of the Minnesota Vikings' Thursday night game against the Washington Redskins, hundreds of protesters marched near U.S. Bank Stadium, calling for Washington to change its team name.
A group of Minnesota tribal governments, the National Coalition Against Racism and other Native American groups are taking part in the "Not Your Mascot" march. Those participating in the protest say the name is a slur and a reminder of a dark time in history.
“The reason why we think it’s really offensive and racist is because the origination of that word is when the white man would set a bounty out for our people and they would go and scalp our people,” said Miiskogihmiiwan Poupart-Chapman, an Augsburg University student.
“It’s a racial slur it brings up terrible imagery and there really is no place for it in sports,” said Rebecca Crooks-Stratton, the secretary and treasurer of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.
The event also included a rally with national and local leaders, like Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, speaking at the event. Lt. Gov. Flanagan is the first Native American woman to be elected to a statewide office in Minnesota.
“When we talk about this team name, it’s not just simply, ‘Oh it's just a mascot, get over it,’” said Flanagan. “This mascot dehumanizes our people and when you take humanity from our people, you don't have to pass policies that support our people and communities, you don't have to invest in our communities.”
Protesters marched in the streets of downtown Minneapolis, calling for the Washington to change its team name. (FOX 9)
Full statement from the Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings recognize the sensitivity of this issue. Minnesota has a significant Native American population and our franchise has strong, positive relationships with several tribal nations and Native American leaders within the state.
We have maintained an ongoing and respectful dialogue with the Native American community, as well as with other state leaders, on this matter and continue to participate in conversations regarding the upcoming game.
In terms of in-game elements, we are obligated as a member of the NFL to operate and market the game as we would any other Vikings home game.
We respect and support our local community voices having an opportunity to be heard. As with all of our games, our primary focus will be on providing a positive game day experience for Vikings fans. We look forward to continuing to work together to ensure that successful game experience.