7:09 PM | Posted in ,
On my return home this past weekend for the graduation of a nephew, I was once again thrown in the middle of the great nickname debate over the use of "Fighting Sioux". It truly amazes me that not a visit goes by without someone bringing up the use of the nickname and discussing passionately one side or the other. To be perfectly honest, I am ambivalent about the whole issue and am a little taken aback as to the people that find the issue to be of any importance at all. When there are issues of war, education, poverty, health care, and others out there to worry about there are too many people worrying about whether or not a university should be using Indian nicknames. Yet, when pulled into these debates (as I simply cannot constrain myself) I am amazed at the arguments used by those who support keeping the name. They seem so lacking in any understanding of history or in the continuing fight of a group of people to rebuild and retain their cultural identity.

"They should be honored that we use their name for a prestigious University."

Well, first of all many Indians aren't honored by their heritage being trivialized by the very people who have spent the past 500 years taking more of their land, bringing virulent disease, and demanding that they give up the very heritage we now purport to honor. Second, I am not entirely certain you or anyone else gets to dictate who should and should not be honored by something. Finally, it might be more of an honor if their entire culture wasn't summed up by the word "fighting" as if that is the only characteristic about them worth highlighting.

"All they really want is money."

HOW DARE THEY! The audacity of a group of people wanting a share of the profits off the use of their name is unthinkable.

"But, Sioux isn't even their name so what do they care."

While that may be true, do you really want to bring up the fact that the name you are currently using for the University of North Dakota is nothing more than a slur used by another tribe to describe the Dakota/Lakota/Nakota? Also, even if it is not their true tribal name we all know who you are referring to and in that case it becomes their name. Is it any different than naming a team any number of other nicknames given to other minorities? That isn't their name, so why should they care?

"We were the stronger culture so they need to just get over it."

Apparently, from what I learned this weekend, if you are able to defeat another group it gives you perpetual license over their cultural identity no matter how much they wish you would stop using that identity. Also, why is it that so many Americans demand we get over history when that history is less than pretty but demand we celebrate history when that history is sunshine and lollipops? It is quite easy for the victor to "get over it" but I daresay that if these people were on the losing end there would be no "get over it" in their lexicon. I will leave it to another post to debunk the other patently false premises of this statement.

Incidentally, it doesn't really matter what you call them because they are going to always be better than the Minnesota Golden Goofers!


2 responses to "The Great Nickname Debate Rages On..."

  1. taxpaying liberal On May 27, 2008 at 9:49 PM

    As a “Fighting Irish” fan and Vikings fan I don’t get it. I was living in Cleveland and “Chief Wahoo” the Indians mascot was bluntly offensive and should have been changed. However I understand the Majority of Natives living in North Dakota like the name and are proud of the team.

    I am for anything that piss's off the ND Hockey Team.

  2. Political Muse On May 27, 2008 at 10:06 PM

    That's all right. That pissed off team gives the beat down to the Goofers on a regular basis! ;)