Northlanders participate in Washington Redskins name protest

By KBJR News 1

November 8, 2013 Updated Nov 9, 2013 at 12:39 PM CDT

Minneapolis, MN (NNCNOWcom) – American Indian groups from the Northland were among the over 700 protesters last night outside Mall of America Field where the Washington Redskins' faced the Minnesota Vikings.

They marched up Franklin Avenue to protest the Redskins name, which they feel is racist.

"Hey, hey, ho, ho, little red sambo has to go, Redskins" was chanted and sung throughout the protest.

President Barack Obama recently weighed in on the controversy, saying he would "think about changing" the name if he owned the team.

"What is the argument for? I just say a true innocent concept of ignorance," Oglala Lakota Olympic gold medalist, Billy Mills, said.

Last week, NFL officials met with the Oneida Nation to address their concerns; however, the owner of the Redskins has reportedly said he will not consider a name change, a stance supported by some fans.

"If you look at domestic violence, if you look at alcoholism, if you look at unemployment - it's through the roof in that culture. They should worry about that instead of the name of a team," Washington Redskins sports fan, Mark Orem, said.

American Indian Olympic gold medalist, Billy Mills, says he has been criticized for speaking out against names he says are offensive to his culture.

"I have been eight times over a number of years, I have been spit at or spit upon and five times called prairie n*****," Mills said.

Washington Post writer Mike Wise traveled all the way to Minneapolis to see the protest. He's covered similar rallies in many states.

"I don't think that people in Washington say the word with malice or hate, but once you find out what it means to certain people, why would you continue to use it?" Washington Post sports columnist, Mike Wise, said.

Mounting tension in a controversy that continues to polarize fans of America's most popular sport.

With the state's $348 million contribution for the new Vikings stadium being covered by Minnesota taxpayers, the Duluth group plans to hold a community event to raise the issue of whether taxpayers should be able to have a say in which NFL teams play in Minneapolis.

Ramona Marozas