Chants, signs opposed to Washington team name greet fans outside U.S. Bank Stadium

People dance in colorful clothing in front of a stadium.
Indigenous dancers perform a variety of traditional dances including fancy shawl and jingle dress during a protest against the name of the Washington D.C. NFL franchise outside of U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Thursday.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Updated: 11:41 p.m. | Posted: 7:25 p.m.

Hundreds of people — including many from Native American tribes — gathered outside U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis Thursday to protest the name of Washington, D.C.’s NFL franchise.

The National Coalition Against Racism in Sports and Media organized the demonstration, which featured elected officials, including Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, a member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe.

Flanagan said the Washington team's name with the word Redskins is dehumanizing.

"When you take humanity away from our people, you don't have to pass policies that are supportive of our people and communities. You can roll right over our communities," Flanagan said.

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Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey told the demonstrators that he grew up a fan of the Washington team, and learned in later years that the name included a slur.

"And I'm sure there's a whole bunch of other little kids running around, that are also not recognizing that immediately. And so it highlights the need for the change," Frey said.

"People ask why, y'all know what the term Redskins means and where it comes from. Every time I hear that it breaks my heart to know my ancestors were hunted,” said Prairie Island Indian Community President Shelley Buck.

Five years ago, White Earth Band of Ojibwe member David Glass helped organize a similar protest in Minneapolis when the Washington team came to play the Vikings.

The president of the National Coalition Against Racism in Sports and Media, Glass said while nothing has changed for the Washington team since the last protest in the Twin Cities, other protests across the country have put pressure on many other teams in recent years to drop offensive names, chants and mascots.

"We will start walking together and having more discussions until we find that common ground, and we will find it."

The Washington team had no comment on the protest outside of U.S Bank Stadium, and the Vikings released a statement, saying while the team recognizes the sensitivity of the issue, the team is “obligated as a member of the NFL to operate and market the game as we would any other Vikings home game.”