The Vikings haven't even moved into TCF Bank Stadium as a temporary tenant yet, but there may already be some controversy that could bubble to the surface in November.
Students at the University of Minnesota are already planning to protest the Washington Redskins nickname when the Vikings play Washington Nov. 2 at The Bank. It is part of a growing sentiment to show opposition toward the team nickname, which has become more of a national talking point over the last few months.
In June, U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum sent a letter to Vikings owner Zygi Wilf asking him to take a stand against the Redskins nickname, claiming that the use of the name and promotion of it would violate University of Minnesota equality policies.
McCollum said that allowing the Washington team and its racist nickname violates the University of Minnesota Board of Regents' Equity, Diversity, Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Policy. The policy seeks to foster a "diverse, humane and hospitable" atmosphere on campus and to create an environment free of racism and "other forms of prejudice, intolerance or harassment."
In a statement responding to McCollum's letter, the university said that it is very sensitive to the use of sports team names that promote racial or ethnic stereotypes. However, the U of M seems to understand that the Vikings have nothing to do with the Redskins nickname and won't attempt to prevent the game from being played on campus.
The opposition to the Redskins nickname has been more than mere lip service by the University of Minnesota. McCollum noted in her letter to Wilf that TCF Bank Stadium has a plaza honoring Minnesota's Native American community and that one of the private sector sponsors that helped fund the stadium was the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.
Minnesota opposition to the Redskins nickname is nothing new. It happened during last year's matchup between the teams. And when Washington played Buffalo in Super Bowl XXVI in January 1992, one of the largest Native American protests in state history took place prior to game, as thousands of Native Americans and non-Indian protesters came together to march around the Metrodome and hold a rally conducted by the American Indian Movement. More than 20 years later, nothing has changed and the sentiment is growing that the time is now for a change to be made is now.
Whether the protest will be substantial or not won't be known until November, but the point has been made clear that there is considerable opposition to a nickname deemed racist – after all, the name "Redskin" was a derogatory term applied to Native Americans by white settlers. It may be much ado about nothing in the end – Washington will only be in town for a little more than 24 hours – but it may be just the latest example of how the times have changed and that the Redskins nickname is being publicly opposed by more people, including those in a position of power.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Redskins to face more opposition at The Bank
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