Above Photo: © Getty Images
Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan (D) is joining other Native American leaders on Thursday to protest the “racist” name and mascot of the Washington Redskins ahead of the NFL team’s game against the Minnesota Vikings.
As a member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, Flanagan is the highest-ranking Native woman elected to executive office in the history of the United States.
“In this role ― and in my role as a mom ― I will march with fellow Minnesotans who are making clear that our state does not tolerate a racist mascot,” Flanagan wrote in a Thursday op-ed for the HuffPost.
Flanagan wrote that there are different origins for the term “redskin,” but they’re all “deeply painful for Native people.”
“At best, the term was a reference to the reddish tone of Native peoples’ skin and was commonly used to dehumanize them. At worst, it refers to the bloody scalp of a Native American,” Flanagan wrote. “Colonies, trade companies and states would advertise paying settlers for scalps as proof that an Indigenous person had been killed. The scalps were sold for cash.”
By celebrating the term with an NFL team, “we celebrate the attempted erasure of Indian people,” she wrote.
Protesters are planning to march from Peavy Field Park and host a rally outside of the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis before the game, according to The Associated Press.
State Reps. Mary Kunesh-Podein (D) and Jamie Becker-Finn (D) — who are also Native Americans — U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), and tribal government leaders will join Flanagan.
McCollum called on the NFL to change the mascot during a speech on the U.S. House floor Wednesday.
“No doubt about it, this is a negative word. This is a slur,” McCollum said. “So it’s remarkable that the NFL commissioners and owners continue to sanction the racist and shameful use of the term ‘redskin’ to describe Native Americans and then profit from it.”
Ahead of the Washington NFL team’s visit to Minnesota, I spoke on the House Floor today about the damage the NFL continues to inflict by condoning a racist name & mascot. Tomorrow, I’ll join tribal leaders, elected officials, and other Minnesotans calling to #ChangeTheMascot. pic.twitter.com/zlKhGrh4m3
— Rep. Betty McCollum (@BettyMcCollum04) October 23, 2019
The Washington football has been locked in legal disputes over the name for decades, with former President Obama even urging the team’s owner, Daniel Snyder, to rebrand, but he’s refused.
“We will never change the name of the team,” Snyder said in 2013. “As a lifelong Redskins fan, and I think that the Redskins fans understand the great tradition and what it’s all about and what it means, so we feel pretty fortunate to be just working on next season.”
“We’ll never change the name,” he added. “It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”
In 2014 the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled the “Redskins” trademark, saying the team name and logo were disparaging to Native Americans. Several Native Americans have also sued. However, in June 2017, the Trump administration dropped the legal challenge in a victory for the team.
Snyder and his wife have a close relationship with Trump and his administration. Snyder attended an exclusive inauguration celebration with Trump’s Cabinet members in January 2017, and Snyder’s wife donated to Trump’s campaign in 2015.