Hundreds Rally Outside Metrodome To Protest 'Redskins'

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Hundreds of American Indians and their supporters rallied outside the Metrodome Thursday night to demand the Washington Redskins change the team’s nickname, calling it racist and disrespectful.

Carrying flags, signs and staffs and led by American Indian Movement co-founder Clyde Bellecourt, the crowd marched to the downtown stadium to hear speakers before the Minnesota Vikings played Washington.

Opponents call the Redskins’ nickname offensive to Native Americans. As drums beat, protesters chanted, “Hey hey, ho ho, Little Red Sambo’s got to go.” Some carried signs with messages including “We are not cartoons! Respect us!” and “Racism is unsportsmanlike conduct.”

American Indians and their supporters gather outside the Metrodome to protest the Washington Redskins' name, prior to an NFL football game between the team and the Minnesota Vikings. (Photo: Jim Mone, AP)

American Indians and their supporters gather outside the Metrodome to protest the Washington Redskins’ name, prior to an NFL football game between the team and the Minnesota Vikings.
(Photo: Jim Mone, AP)

Mario McBrogan, 24, of Minneapolis, who is Cherokee, was there to watch the game and to support changing the Redskins’ name. He said the name should be changed “out of respect to every Native American.”

Other teams have dropped Indian mascots and nicknames, McBrogan said. “So I don’t understand why they (the Redskins) shouldn’t have to change their name. It’s obviously offensive to a culture,” he said.

Krystal Hedemann, 34, of St. Paul, a member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, said it’s time to get rid of what she called racist names in sports.

“I want my children to grow up in a world without racist names,” Hedemann said.

Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura spoke to the crowd, saying he always tried to avoid saying “Redskins” when covering the team as a sports broadcaster.

“This name is wrong. It’s just plain wrong,” Ventura said. He asked what would happen if a sports team in Birmingham, Alama, was named “The Slaves” and had an African-American mascot.

“What kind of outrage would there be at that? Well, this is the same thing,” Ventura said.

Redskins owner Dan Synder has called the name a “badge of honor” and said it won’t be changed.

Asked about the Redskins’ nickname at a Thursday morning news conference, current Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton called it “racist” and suggested every member of Congress should boycott the team to put pressure on its owners.

Also Thursday, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak released a statement saying the name disrespects indigenous people. Six members of the Minneapolis City Council had recently sent a letter to the team’s owner and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell calling the nickname and team mascot racist.

  • Trevor23

    Slaves is comparable to Redskins? This is an issue that has been bugging me recently. I honor Indians and their way of life. I personally have a best friend who is Indian. I think the Redskins are honoring Indians with the name. I really hope Washington keeps this name to show that racism is something of the past. I hate racism because it can really be applied to any situation. Open your minds up people. You are the ones letting racism still exist. Erase it from your mind and it will erase it from the world. Football is such a big sport in the US, so this situation can really be used to say “it’s ok to be a redskin” and we honor the significance of your existence.

  • kevinzeese

    You are fooling yourself. Maybe you are a fan of the Washington football team?

    Look up the meaning of the word. It is more akin to “nigger” than to “slave.” Wikipedia summarizes it: “”Redskin” is a racial descriptor of disputed origin for Native Americans. Although by some accounts not originally having negative intent,[1] the term is defined by dictionaries of American English as “usually offensive”,[2] “disparaging”,[3][4] “insulting”,[5] “taboo” [6] and is avoided in public usage with the exception of its continued use as a name for sports teams.”

  • Trevor23

    No, I’m actually from Ohio so I sadly I root for the Browns (no racism there right?). “Wikipedia summarizes it” takes away all credibility to any words that follow after it. You have to google “Redskin” to even explain what it means though? So you don’t have a understanding of the word yourself. You are understanding it from someone else’s mind and not your own. Why not let race be positive for once instead of negative? You are adding fuel to a fire that needs a blanket ( smoke signals, get it?). You are proof of the close minded people in the world. Open up and accept what’s out there. Support the Indians instead of trying to take away something signifying and positive to their race.

  • SickOfTheStupid

    bottom line is the fact the Washington Redskins are a privately owned entity and are free to name themselves anything they wish If native Americans have a issue with the name they can vote with their wallets and pocketbooks , what they are attempting now is nothing short of extortion …………Political correctness is just another form of Orwellian BS.

  • kevinzeese

    And, they can also protest as they are doing ans move public opinion against the team.

    If opposing derogatory, racist terms is a political correctness of “Orwellian BS”, what is favoring racist terminology?

  • kevinzeese

    I actually knew it was a racist term, I got the definition so you would understand. Certainly the Native Indians know it is a racist term and that is what matters.

    Race can be a very positive thing as it brings different perspectives and experiences into our understanding of the world. But, when someone starts by using racist terminology it has the opposite effect. If they want to be the Washington Indians or Washington Braves or Washington Warriors, those are fine. They are not racist terms, but Redskin is.

    Why continue to use terms that insult people? What is positive about that?

  • Trevor23

    Its a team name. The context of the words being used is in a positive way. My point here is that if we take away this team name then we are letting racism defeat us all. Show that if used in a positive way then it doesn’t have to be racist and we don’t have to think that way. There is no intent with the name to be racist and I really think something this big can be used to lead the way in defeating racism. Certainly not all Indians are offended because I personally know a few Indians that are active members of their tribe and they tell me its not even bad. Can’t we all think like that? I really think this is more of a battle over the meaning of the word rather than the word itself. For example, I am white.. namely because of my skin color. Society terms this as the right thing to be called so in our minds we accept this term. If compared to the redskin case though, its very racist. Why?.. because society deems redskin as being racist but not white, both descriptive words about skin color. Break away and open your mind! We are taking the wrong approach to defeat racism!

  • kevinzeese

    Dick Gregory tried that “Nigger”, used it in a book title and comedy routine, but some words are evil. What has been done to the Native Indians is ethnic cleansing, one of the most successful and vicious ethnic cleansing policies in world history. To name a sports team after a racist term for Indian shows that the country has not faced the reality of our abhorrent history. With Indians protesting the name, we should listen and the name should be changed.

  • john smith

    we also have team mascots which are going extinct or are endangerd in the same places where the team plays. i.e. badgers of WI. tea party has a timber rattler on it’s flag, which is going extinct. hopefully only koch supported tea bags go extinct.

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