MINNEAPOLIS — Indigenous protesters will hold a rally and march Thursday, Oct. 24, to urge the Washington, D.C., professional football team to retire its team name and mascot.
“The Washington team's name is a painful embodiment of the lack of respect for and understanding of Native Americans,” said Rebecca Crooks-Stratton, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community secretary and treasurer.
Minnesota tribal governments, the National Coalition Against Racism in Sports and Media, the National Congress of American Indians and other Indigenous organizations will host the “Not Your Mascot” march and rally ahead of the Minnesota Vikings and Washington football game in Minneapolis to urge the team to "retire its degrading team name and mascot," according to a statement from the National Congress of American Indians, or NCAI.
Five years ago, 4,000 people gathered outside the Vikings’ football stadium to support calling on Washington to change its name from the “R-word.” Mille Lacs Band Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin said: “Since then, nothing has changed — the Washington NFL team still unapologetically uses the worst Native American racial epithet.”
The nonprofit NCAI has worked to “eradicate offensive ‘Indian’ mascots from sports and popular culture” by educating groups and people about the harms they cause Indigenous people, the group said in the release. In a 2013 report, the group said “‘Indian’ sports brands used by professional teams were born in an era when racism and bigotry were accepted by the dominant culture.”
"It's time that we correct the narrative," Crooks-Stratton said. "Native Americans are here today with our own governments, cultures and modern stories.”
The March will start at Peavey Field Park at 4 p.m. Thursday, and the rally will take place from 5-7 p.m. at the commons near the U.S. Bank Stadium.