Thousands of protesters gathered at Minneapolis’s TCF Stadium on Sunday to tell Washington D.C.’s NFL team owner Dan Snyder: “We are not mascots.” The Minnesota Vikings played host to Snyder’s team amid the long-planned protests, which reportedly brought together more than 5,000 people.
Why Minneapolis? Three big reasons: First, it’s a NFL city with a sizable Native population. Second, the Vikings are playing at the University of Minnesota this season as they await their new stadium; campus activists and community members have been organizing there for months. Finally, there’s precedent. The Washington Post noted that in 1992, when the Buffalo Bills played D.C. in the only Super Bowl hosted in Minnesota, an estimated 3,000 demonstrators turned out at the now-demolished Metrodome to denounce the team’s name.
Amanda Blackhorse, a member of the Navajo Nation in Arizona, whose lawsuit led the U.S. Patent Office to revoke the team’s trademark in June because it disparages Natives, summed up the mood in Minneapolis on Sunday.
“It’s a good day to be indigenous,” Blackhorse told the Star Tribune. “I’m so glad to be here with you today. Minnesota Natives don’t mess around.”
Democratic U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota also attended the protest.
“We are here to tell the NFL there is no honor in a racial slur,” McCollum told the Washington Post. “Here in Minnesota we have 11 proud tribal nations, but only 150 years ago, their ancestors, men and women, elders and children, were hunted and murdered for profit. This was a government-funded policy of genocide. The pain of this brutal and shameful history is still with us. If there is any decency in the NFL, the time is now — change the mascot.”