Gov. Mark Dayton jumped into the controversy surrounding the Washington Redskins' name on Thursday, saying the NFL team’s name is “racist” and “offensive.”
“I believe the name should be changed,” the DFLer said at a news conference. “It’s antiquated and offensive in our present context.”
This is the latest flare up in a decades-long fight over the name, a racial description for indigenous people that many find offensive.
Dayton made the statement hours before Washington was set to take on the Minnesota Vikings at the Metrodome. American Indian Movement activists plan to host a rally to protest the arrival of team owner Daniel Snyder, who said he has no plans to change the name.
House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said he didn't think the name needed to change. He attended the University of North Dakota, which caved to pressure from the NCAA to scrap a Fighting Sioux moniker and logo that many found offensive.
The governor said those who don’t like the Redskins name should focus their attention squarely on Washington.
“If you want to put an end to the name, get every member of Congress to sign a statement that they won’t attend a Redskins game in Washington or across the country until the name is changed,” Dayton said. “Put pressure on Congress. The team isn’t run by Congress, but it certainly is sensitive to the external pressures there.”
The fight has a key ally in Minnesota. U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, a Democrat from Minnesota’s Fourth Congressional District, is co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus and is a leading voice in the fight to change the name. (Read this).
Dayton has spoken with the stadium authority, which controls the stadium, and believes “every effort is being made today and tonight to not use the term Redskins.”
He also hopes the moniker is eliminated or minimized in the new Minnesota Vikings stadium, unless the team changes its name.