What FOX Didn’t Air During the Viking/Packers Game:
True “Honoring” of Native Tribes by the NFL

By Larry P. Madden

Indian holding flag in stadiumAt the November 22nd (2015) Minnesota Vikings’ home game, the tribes residing in both Minnesota and Wisconsin gathered to show unity and celebrate the November Indian Heritage month. Though the teams on the field were longtime rivals the friendship and comradery amongst the tribes was evident from the start. With arrangements made by Ms. Jessica Ryan and the Minnesota Vikings organization, 23 different tribes residing in Minnesota and Wisconsin sent their tribal flags and representatives to kick off the start of the game. Longtime and well respected as an elder and experienced Powwow Emcee, Jerry Dearly, opened the ceremonies and introduced each tribe and standard bearer. The Lakota Women Warriors took center stage as the National Anthem was sung by State Legislator and White Earth tribal member Peggy Flanigan, which ended with an unexpected show of American might in the form of fighter jets that swooped over the stadium.

Many planning hours went into making this happen as Ryan, a Brothertown Indians of Wisconsin and Native American child advocate lawyer, worked tirelessly to make this come to fruition. Along with cooperation from the Vikings organization, the event was a positive spin on what is too often dark, ugly, or tainted when Indians make the news concerning the NFL. The Vikings organization realized the importance to both the teams’ fan bases and the history of the area, and was, according to Ms. Ryan, “open and welcoming from the start.” Before all the names tribes have now, ancient peoples lived in this fertile part of the world. The Vikings organization realized and stood tall in honoring this love and bond to the land by indigenous people. Many times I have heard learned men say how we are invisible to the American public eye. The Vikings made a wonderful effort to give Native people a place of honor at the game.

The problem is that the Good Ole’ Boy network Fox Sports, a division of FOX Network which is known for their biased news coverage, didn’t air the tribal celebration. They had a wonderful chance to make a statement for diversity and portray Indians in a positive way, but FOX chose to completely ignore the proceedings to the point of skipping the National anthem ceremonies and flag bearers. Instead, they aired and commented on prior footage of a gray squirrel that had entered the stadium and required a subsequent chase. I, as a fan of the NFL, cannot remember the last time a National Anthem ceremony was skipped at the start of a game. Not only had these men and women, many of them Veterans, provided their own transportation and flags to celebrate November as Native American Heritage month, they also were trying to engage in a positive relation between the tribes and the league with an embattled Native mascot. I find the behavior of FOX network insulting. I feel that if there were natives screaming at the camera concerning the Redskins issue, a camera would have never left them.

Beyond that I am proud to say I have met some of these men and retained their friendship for years. Commander Robert (Bob) Little and Mr. Roger Miller, both Mohican veterans, handled flags at the event. I just wish that FOX would have shown Native people honoring the game, and in turn the NFL truly honoring Native people. Their silence on the matter speaks volumes about their own racist leanings.

Larry P. Madden (Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Wisconsin) was born and raised in the Sturgeon Bay area. He is a recent graduate of CMN, enjoys the Powwow trail and strives to maintain balance on the red road. He’s found his recent enlightenment to the Arts to be quite satisfying.