Minneapolis City Council takes steps to ban offensive nickname from U of M stadium

MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan
University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler has condemned the nickname and mascot, and has asked that it not be used in the stadium.

The Minneapolis City Council took a pair of steps Friday to try to stop the use of the “Redskins” nickname when the NFL team from Washington, D.C. plays the Vikings at the University of Minnesota later this season.

One of the moves was symbolic: The council passed a resolution asking the team to change “the racist, offensive name of the Washington, D.C. football franchise.”

The other was more substantive: It directed the city attorney to research whether the city has legal authority under its civil rights law to enforce a ban on the use of the name and the team logo in TCF Bank Stadium on scoreboards, uniforms and other displays. The game is scheduled for Nov. 2.

Both passed unanimously and without comment.

The direction to the city attorney came a week after members of the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Emergency Management Committee heard from members of the National Coalition Against Racism in Sports and Media, who asked the city to take action.

The organization wants “to build some pride so we can take our children to a Vikings game or a Twins game when they are playing the Cleveland Indians,” said the coalition’s Clyde Bellecourt. He noted that the Washington team nickname is insulting and racist, and refers to the taking of evidence by whites to prove that they had killed Native Americans and claim bounties.

David Glass, an NCARSM board member, asked that the city seek restraining orders against any league or team that attempts to bring mascots or nicknames that use derogatory Native American terms or images. Glass also asked that the city change its procurement policies to stop buying goods and services from companies that use names and images that are offensive to Native Americans.

Larry Leventhal, an attorney with the organization, asked the city to declare that any such names and images are not welcome, and to announce that it would take legal action to block them. “Of course we are thinking very immediately of November 2 when the Washington club calling themselves ‘Redskins’ comes to Minneapolis and would be performing and playing at the University of Minnesota,” he said.

Deputy City Attorney Peter Ginder said the staff would look at the legal issues, but also said the First Amendment issues might keep the city from succeeding in any attempt to restrain the league.

“There are significant speech concerns raised by the proposed action that was raised here today. So that would be the fundamental framework we would look at this under,” Ginder said. “As you are aware, content-based regulation is generally prohibited under the First Amendment.”

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler has also condemned the nickname and mascot, and has asked that it not be used in the stadium. But the university also has said it does not have legal standing to block the use by private parties who are leasing a university facility.

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community kiosk
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community kiosk on the Tribal Nations Plaza outside of TCF Bank Stadium.

On Friday, the U of M announced a series of education events related to the issue beginning Oct. 24. “We’re a land-grant university, and we have 11 federally designated tribes in our state,” said Katrice Albert, vice president for Equity and Diversity, in a conference call. “We have an obligation to do that education and do that awareness raising in the community.”

The university is also is in discussion with student and faculty groups, as well as the National Coalition Against Racism in Sports and Media, about holding a rally on the day of the game, she said.

“We’re in conversations to make sure there is infrastructure to have a rally to protest the name,” said Albert, who also said the university is still talking to the Vikings about the request to not have the name and logos displayed.

“We have not gotten final answers to that request,” she said.

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Comments (25)

  1. Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 10/03/2014 - 06:31 pm.

    Too much..

    fuss is being made over this. The team has been around since 1932 and no one cared. Now we have a class of people, the professionally offended who are being stirred up by the agitators on the left and all hell breaks loose.

    • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 10/05/2014 - 10:10 am.


      People have been objecting to the name for decades, some from the very start. Native American groups protested when the Washington team played here in the super bowl in the early 90s. The litigation that resulted in the revocation of the trademark started decades ago. You really should spend a couple of minutes on google before commenting.

    • Submitted by Barbara Munson on 10/05/2014 - 04:43 pm.

      race-based stereotypes

      As chairperson for the Wisconsin Indian Education Association “Indian” Mascot and Logo Taskforce, I want to express my heartfelt thanks to the Minneapolis City Council for thanking these actions.

    • Submitted by Carl Gulick on 10/05/2014 - 06:54 pm.

      Consider this…

      Demagogue: a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument.

      Rational people with a life would not waste time on this, but leftists currently hold the upper-hand, and they are going to do all they can to milk this non-issue for more political capital.

  2. Submitted by Bob Quarrels on 10/03/2014 - 07:52 pm.

    Washington football, Cleveland baseball

    Seems like the time for the city of Minneapolis to lodge a protest would have been before ponying up hundreds of millions money for the new NFL stadium here. Not after. And where was the issue during the summer when Cleveland’s baseball team came in, as it does multiple times a year?

    The names are offensive, but so are the desperate lunges for attention from politicians with issues within the jurisdiction of their electors.

    • Submitted by William Pappas on 10/04/2014 - 08:10 am.

      Use of “Redskins” as team mascott name

      Great point about the bargaining power of the University prior to signing lease with the Vikings who had absolutely no other alternative. That would have been an impressive showing of principal. To say this issue is about public officials who want to bring attention to themselves is belittling and inappropriate. As our history of genocide becomes more recognized and Native Americans try to reclaim their heritage and respect from our government and the people that took their land, the term “redskins” is now a racial slur that can no longer be tolerated. Printing it prominently in our state’s largest newspaper and displaying the name on our PUBLIC facilities is beyond racist. It is at this point purposefully disrespectful of Native American history and the realities of genocide. ” Redskins” is no different than White culture’s use of the N-word and possibly worse as Native Americans absolutely have no desire to preopt the term for use within their own culture. It is so repugnant in its origin that it should simply be unacceptable to prominently display or use in reference to mascotts. The Wilf’s have shown great cowardice and greed in not taking a stand against the display of the word in their leased venue. For this metropolitan area in this state a ban on the name would be entirely appropriate and indeed the only respectful alternative to cancelling the game altogether.

  3. Submitted by William Pappas on 10/04/2014 - 08:19 am.


    Good on Eric Kaler. The more honorable thing to do for the Vikings is cancelling the game altogether. That would probably tip the scales in the NFL and push the Washington team to find another mascott name. For most of us that name is beyond offensive, it is simply unacceptable for use anywhere in our society accept as a reminder of our past history of genocide and horrible repression. How does that equate with the fun use of the name as a mascott to professional team? If you think this is simply a “fuss”, you need to examine your own attitudes toward race.

  4. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 10/04/2014 - 08:52 am.


    Can anyone explain why Fighting Sioux name is offensive and Fighting Irish is not?

    • Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 10/05/2014 - 04:29 pm.

      That is because…

      Irish are white and Sioux are not. The Irish in this country have been discriminated against but never perceived themselves as victims. Thanks to the agitators on the left, the Sioux perceive the term, “Fighting Sioux” as offensive.

      • Submitted by jody rooney on 10/06/2014 - 08:53 am.

        Because the Irish named themselves that.

        Boy do you not get social norms.

        Women can call each other girls but in the mouths of men under the age of 70 it is offensive and condescending.

        African Americans can call themselves (at least they did in the late 60’s) the N word but if you a want to walk into a bar and do it have 911 on speed dial.

        What people call themselves and what other people call them are two different things. Not all Native names are bad Henry Boucher (I am sorry if it’s spelled wrong) a Minnesota hockey legend explained that the Roseau Warriors was a mutually agreed upon name by both Native and White communities.

        By the way I believe Sioux has always been derogatory. The native communities don’t call themselves that.

        • Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 10/06/2014 - 11:10 am.


          your norms would the use of the “n” word by the African American community would be acceptable?IF so then your logic is inconsistent.

  5. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 10/04/2014 - 10:56 am.

    It’s sad to say, but from Minnesota’s experience with the Vikings as an organization, it would be difficult to ask that team to behave ethically or with a sincere social conscience.

    They could put pressure on the Washington team, within their league, and pressure on other teams in the league to put pressure on Washington to change the name (we’re only talking football games here, folks, and a name change doesn’t change the game). But, they won’t.

    Kaler of the U of MN and the Minneapolis city council can’t get beyond the limitations of the First Amendment–nor should they. But there are more ways than one to skin a cat, and the Vikings have more clout. If they’d use it.

  6. Submitted by Barbara Munson on 10/05/2014 - 04:48 pm.

    Racial slurs teach children to tolerate racism. It is important to set good examples of respect for one another by stopping this practice in the NFL and in college and high school s
    ports as well. Good to see that Minneapolis City Council is acting as a good citizen.

  7. Submitted by Fiona Birch on 10/07/2014 - 01:22 pm.

    The difference between “Fighting Sioux” and “Fighting Irish” is that the people whom the “Fighting Sioux” are named after after offended by it and the people whom the “Fighting Irish” are named after are not. If you are Irish and are offended by the “Fighting Irish” nickname please take any and all action you believe necessary to remove that nickname. Do not just use it as a red herring to derail this conversation.

    The difference between the Vikings and the Redskins is that there is not now a large group of people whom identify as Vikings. The Vikings are a group of people who existed in the past and no longer exist. Sure people can claim to be of Viking decent, but they are not Vikings. Native American’s on the other hand, continue to exist and therefore take offense at racist nicknames. However, if you as a person of Nordic decent are offended by the Vikings nickname please do something about it other than use it to derail a real conversation that the adults are trying to have about racial slurs.

  8. Submitted by jody rooney on 10/09/2014 - 06:51 pm.

    So why don’t we picket the game?

    Tell me where to pick up a sign and I will be there.

    Send an email to the sponsors, the networks. Refuse to buy their products. Picket stores that sell their products.

    Any sponsor of the Broadcast of the Vikings Game with the “****” will face a boycot of their product. If sponsors back out then the networks or team may be willing to rethink.

    What Corporations are Viking Season Ticket Holders? How about contacting them?

    This has to stop now this is too much the comments by the folks on this website show how shallow these folks are.

  9. Submitted by Nicky Noel on 10/10/2014 - 09:37 am.

    Planned Protest

    For all of you interested in fighting the use of this slur, a coalition of Native American groups are planning a rally called #NotYourMascot. Here is the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/706699092737997/

    Also, re: the use of Fighting Sioux vs. Fighting Irish: The Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota did not name themselves the Sioux. Many Dakota/Lakota/Nakota people consider this is an offensive nickname that was given by others, and most etymologists point to its French origin. But I think Jody Rooney and others already made cogent arguments to this end.

  10. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 10/10/2014 - 07:08 pm.


    Sure, so now once proud Indians are taught by the white man (and woman) to feel offended all the time…

    As for people calling themselves names but not letting others do it, the only thing I can say is that Jews have been called names for thousands of years but never ever they called themselves that way… If people do not respect themselves, they cannot expect others to respect them.

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