NFL, Fox Network, Snub Vikings Native American Heritage Celebration
It isn’t every Sunday that you see American Indians holding a pow-wow on the 50-yard line during halftime of a National Football League game – but that’s exactly what happened at TCF Bank Stadium when the Vikings hosted the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, November 22nd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Prior to kick-off, representatives from 23 federally recognized Tribes from Minnesota and Wisconsin carried their Tribal flags onto the field in recognition of Native American Heritage Month. Sokaogon Tribal Treasurer Vickie Ackley, was one of many Tribal people who participated in the honoring at TCF Bank Stadium.
At halftime, Tribal singers, Red Bone, laid the beat as traditional dancers in nearly every style made their way from each team’s sideline to the center of the field on the 50-yard line. The Pow-wow Grand Entry procession was complete with head-dancers, royalty and an MC announcing on the stadium’s PA system.
“It was a great feeling to be representing the Sokaogon Chippewa Tribe and our native culture in front of all those fans,” said Ackley.
The only downside to the celebration was; if you weren’t one of the over 52, 000-plus who attended the game Sunday, you didn’t see the event unfold. That’s because Fox’s coverage of the game didn’t include a single mention of the historic moment.
What’s even more puzzling was the lack of coverage from local Minneapolis television news networks.
A post from the Chippewa Federation’s Facebook Page challenged the league and Fox network for not promoting the event.
“The NFL and Fox lost a huge opportunity to save face in regards to the Native mascot/logo issue by not publicizing the pre-game and halftime presentation at the Vikings – Packers game in Minneapolis on Sunday,” said the post. Considering the contest was billed as Fox’s “Game of the Week” and the continued public fallout over the Washington Redskins and Kansas City Chiefs use of racially based mascots, many thought league officials and Fox network passed on an opportunity to build stronger relations with American Indians.
Despite the snub by the mainstream media, the event was an overwhelming success that brought Tribal culture to the center of one of the fiercest rivalries in the NFL. It also showed a willingness by both the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers franchises to promote racial diversity and inclusion in honoring Native American Heritage Month.
As for the National Football League and Fox Television Network, including play-by-play commentators Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, a simple on air nod of the doings would have breathed life into both organizations’ public relations efforts as far as Native mascotry and more importantly, would have given American Indians the recognition they so rightfully deserve.
The Vikings organization in particular did a great job in welcoming the Tribal Nations into the fold and giving them the opportunity to showcase their culture in front of a large crowd.
In doing so, fans and players alike were reminded of the fact that American Indians are alive and well in 2015.
“It was an incredible honor to be a part of it all,” said Ackley. “It was great to see our brothers and sisters unite for all of us,” she said.