‘Redskins’ Name Opponents See an Opportunity Thursday Night in Minnesota

Because the Metrodome is publicly run, activists trying to change the team name think they can limit use of the “Redskins” moniker.

The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minn.
National Journal
Matt Vasilogambros
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Matt Vasilogambros
Nov. 7, 2013, 9 a.m.

Thursday night’s game between two mid­dling teams, the Wash­ing­ton Red­skins and Min­nesota Vik­ings, might not of­fer sports fans much in the way of ex­cit­ing ath­leti­cism. But it has giv­en op­pon­ents of the Red­skins’ name an open­ing for their fight.

Back in Wash­ing­ton, the D.C. Coun­cil passed a res­ol­u­tion this week call­ing on own­er Dan Snyder to change the name of the foot­ball team, call­ing it of­fens­ive and ra­cist. May­or Vin­cent Gray also came out in fa­vor of a name change. Snyder has long said that the Red­skins name is not of­fens­ive and that the team’s his­tory should be honored.

But now, politi­cians out­side of the Dis­trict are get­ting in­volved in the de­bate. The Red­skins are in Min­nesota on Thursday, a state that is home to many Nat­ive Amer­ic­ans. And what makes this game dif­fer­ent is that it is be­ing played in a pub­lic fa­cil­ity.

A protest, or­gan­ized by mem­bers of the Amer­ic­an In­di­an Move­ment In­ter­pret­ive Cen­ter in Min­neapol­is, is chal­len­ging the pan­el that man­ages the sta­di­um not to dis­play or an­nounce the name “Red­skins.” Of­fi­cials at the Min­nesota Sports Fa­cil­it­ies Au­thor­ity earli­er denied a re­quest to lim­it the use of the Red­skins’ logo. But that’s not stop­ping the protest or the out­cry from law­makers.

Rep. Keith El­lis­on, D-Minn., wrote a let­ter to the au­thor­ity mem­bers Wed­nes­day ur­ging them to re­con­sider their de­cision to dis­play the logo, say­ing, “The use of this term is in­con­sist­ent with our state’s val­ues and his­tory.” The Oneida Na­tion, a group that has been at the fore­front of op­pos­i­tion to the “R-word,” ran ra­dio ads in Min­neapol­is this week.

Even six mem­bers of the Min­neapol­is City Coun­cil and the out­go­ing may­or, Demo­crat R.T. Ry­bak, have urged the Wash­ing­ton foot­ball team to change its name. He said in part:

It has nev­er been right to dis­respect the in­di­gen­ous people of our coun­try, and it is es­pe­cially wrong to do it in 2013 with the name of a team that rep­res­ents our na­tion’s cap­it­al.

I stand with elec­ted of­fi­cials across the coun­try, in­clud­ing mem­bers of the Min­neapol­is City Coun­cil, and many, many oth­ers who be­lieve it is long past time to change the name of Wash­ing­ton’s NFL team. It is deeply dis­ap­point­ing that calls for re­spect have not been heard, and I will join oth­ers in look­ing for ways to bring change, in­clud­ing ur­ging those who agree to boy­cott mer­chand­ise of the Wash­ing­ton Foot­ball Fran­chise.

Pro­test­ers are sched­uled to gath­er at the cen­ter Thursday af­ter­noon and march to the Metro­dome to protest be­fore the game.

Rep. Betty Mc­Col­lum, D-Minn., who has been a lead­ing na­tion­al voice on this is­sue, will also be march­ing with the pro­test­ers. The co­chair of the Con­gres­sion­al Nat­ive Amer­ic­an Caucus was one of 10 mem­bers of Con­gress who sent a let­ter to Snyder in May to change the name.

It’s un­clear wheth­er the Min­nesota Sports Fa­cil­it­ies Au­thor­ity will heed the calls of these of­fi­cials, but it might make the game between these two teams a little more fun to watch.

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