Protesters decry NFL Washington Redskins name as racist

Lincoln Matt, Native American student at Minneapolis College, said the mascot’s name was bad universally.

Scott Selmer, photographer

Lincoln Matt, Native American student at Minneapolis College, said the mascot’s name was bad universally.

Scott Selmer, Editor-in-Chief

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As fans headed to the Vikings game Thursday at U.S. Bank Stadium against the NFL’s Washington team protesters of the Redskins name were amassed nearby at Peavey Park in downtown Minneapolis, St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.

Demonstrators marched from Peavey Park to U.S. Bank Stadium where they chanted “We are not your mascot,” sang Native American songs, danced traditional Native American dances and listened to guest speakers including Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, herself a member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum and state Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein speak, Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

Robert Larsen, chair of the Lower Sioux Community directed critical remarks toward Washington team owner Dan Snyder, St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.

“I think it’s ridiculous that we have to come together in this day and age for something like this. There is no honor in racism T-shirts. They say this is named to honor us. Well if it is, then Mr. Snyder, how many of the 11 tribal nations have you come to visit?”

Lincoln Matt, Native American student at Minneapolis College, said the mascot’s name was bad universally.

Scott Selmer, photographer
Lincoln Matt

“I think resisting the name change is not good. I’m going to be blunt. The name hasn’t really stuck in a very good light. There’s really not much of a point in keeping it, especially with it being a slur and all. If you’re going to be so stubborn or blind to not see, as a promoter, you’re promoting a racial stereotype and a slur, that’s bad. This is a major football team, so people all over America are seeing it. People all over the world are seeing it and especially people who tune into the NFL. So, it’s definitely not a good look for our culture or for America. It just still shows that we haven’t grown up as a country.”

Most guest speakers directed their criticisms at Snyder. Some criticized the NFL for its inaction in the team’s name controversy, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. McCollum directed the NFL to stop profiting off of a racial slur and change the team’s name.

Dani Ruotsinoja, Minneapolis College student, said she thought the Washington name needed to be more 21st century in appeal.

Dani Ruotsinoja

Scott Selmer, photographer
Dani Ruotsinoja

“I think it’s a pretty outdated name. It’s a very obvious racist term. It’s 2019; we need to move past that. It’s very clear to me that a lot of indigenous people in the U.S. are not happy with it, and I think we just need to respect their opinion and change the name. To me, it’s just a sports team. What’s the big deal in changing the name?”

Some fans joined the protest. Most Washington fans respectfully walked around demonstrators.

The gathering piggybacked the 2014 protest at TCF Bank Stadium where thousands of protesters rallied for the same issue, Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

Tope Daniels, Minneapolis College cinema studies student, said there was a better way to show respect.

Scott Selmer, photographer
Tope Daniels

“I think, in itself, the fact that it says redskins is disrespectful to the native people. There’s always different excuses that are being made in support of keeping the name like: ‘Oh, we’re honoring their achievements.’ But if you’re going to honor the native people then start first with giving them some of the things they deserve that you’ve taken away. Stop encroaching on their land. Stop making a public spectacle of their homelessness off of Hiawatha Avenue, and figure out a solution to the situation. Figure out a way to repair the damage that has been done. That’s how to honor Native Americans.”

Mica Standing Soldier, University of Minnesota graduate, said she was at the 2014 rally at the university and the turnout was awesome, Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. She said there is “a lot of support from young people and from nonindigenous students.”

Nanette Missaghi, director of equity and inclusion at Minneapolis College said it was time to get away from marginalizing any people.

Scott Selmer, photographer
Nanette Missaghi

“I am in total support of having all of our sports teams no longer use people as a mascot. We should avoid using human beings and any kind of group as mascots. There is no reason as to why we cannot use animals or nonhuman symbols. It is offensive to me, and I support the work of all of my colleagues and friends who have showed up on the streets. We would never say—the white people, or the crackers, or the whatever-kind-of-word a person might want to say about white people.”

“You’d never say the N-word for black people. Why would we use the word redskins? It’s a no-brainer.”