No Sioux for you

Matt Petersen - Sports Editor

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Matt Petersen - Sports Editor

What’s in a name?
Apparently a lot.


Great West Conference member and long-time institution University of North Dakota was forced to forfeit its mascot and name, the Fighting Sioux, this month as a result of protest from the NCAA and a local Native American tribe.


No word yet on whether animal rights groups will file a similar protest against the South Dakota Coyotes.


North Dakota’s situation raises questions, not the least of which is whether such minority victories will eventually cast their shadow over the likes of the Washington Redskins or the Atlanta Braves.
Clouding UND’s development is that the other local tribe voted in favor of the school keeping the name. Apparently not everyone was offended at a prominent university recognizing the Sioux as a key aspect of the region’s history and culture.


Those protesting the former name did so using words such as “demeaning” and “stereotyping.” Personally, I’d immediately be a fan of any team naming itself after me.


And that’s the point. When fans watch a game, they’re not looking for political statements or reminders about the real world. They’re trying to escape them. There’s a reason former Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren uttered my all-time favorite quote:


“I always turn to the sports section first. The sports page records people’s accomplishments; the front page usually records nothing but man’s failures.”


In other words, sports is (or should be) a place removed from the warts and flaws of real life. When the real-life tries to bring its ugly into sports, it’s not welcome. There’s a reason Phoenix Suns fans were incensed when the team sported “Los Suns” jerseys to show opposition to the new state immigration laws passed two years ago. Sports are a less-dangerous form of religion to fans. Fans want that separation of church and state.


There’s a darker side to this that has been brewing nationwide in recent years. Minorities have put up with a lot of crap for a long time.


No denying it. They wanted their rights, and they’ve made a lot of progress in getting them.


Lately, it’s become something more. Instead of getting on even ground, it’s been more about getting even.


Last year two NBA players were seen making homosexual slurs on national television. It was wrong. They were reprimanded, fined thousands of dollars. The players and the teams issued public apologies.


That wasn’t enough. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) said it had reached out to the NBA and the teams of those players “to discuss next steps.”


The thousands of dollars in fines, bad press and public, professional apologies weren’t enough. The players, teams and league were expected/obligated/forced to work with GLAAD with anti-homophobic ads.


There comes a point when instead of looking for public rights, people look for angles to publicly prove they’ve been wronged. The motives are backwards, and sports is the backwards forum for it to happen.


North Dakota proudly – repeat, proudly – sported the name and face of the Sioux for eight decades. Enough Sioux chose to take that as a mark of shame. Now, when Utah Valley’s basketball teams face UND this week, they will simply be playing UND.


All game, no name.


Matt Petersen can be reached at petersen[email protected]. You can follow him on Twitter @SportsWriter93.


Matt Petersen – Sports Editor

7 thoughts on “No Sioux for you

  1. The Redskins need only to take the Indian logo off of their helmets and use something else. Something that perhaps depicts Washington D.C.. Thus the name Redkins would only refer to their jersey color and although I’m sure that would not satisfy Indian tribes, with this workaround they wouldn’t have as valid an argument anymore.

  2. Equating Native American names with animal names. I believe that pretty much sums up the inherent racism of this article and how the the folks at UND perceive the Fighting Sioux mascot.

  3. I have thought for a long time UND should change it’s name.. Maybe to honor the most popular cultural presence in the state… Perhaps they should change thier name to the “Bewildered Norweigians”, and the fans can chant “Uff Da” in unison when the other team scores.. Thier mascot can be a blonde headed rancher with over-alls on carrying a tackle box in one hand and the other on his forehead, as if to portrait a bewildered look…

    I dont think the Nords would take offense, it’s quite an honor to be mascot.. Forget about asking them how they feel about it, I’m shure they wont care..

  4. “No word yet on whether animal rights groups will file a similar protest against the South Dakota Coyotes.”

    So you just compared Native Rights groups with Animal Rights groups, which effectively compares Native Americans with Animals.

    Well done. I’m sure that won’t anger _anyone._

  5. Matt Peterson misses the point. The constant exposure to negative primitive imagery “Fighting” Sioux goes against progress and moving forward. If a Sioux member goes for a CEO or other senior job in a corporate setting and this is the view Board members have of Sioux, then they may be seen as less suitable or reasonable than another non-Tribal candidate with exactly the same competences. Tribal Nations going for business grants/loans may be seen as less capable of managing the development activity if they are portrayed in a less cerebral way as a Nation. Ignorance is out there & not everyone has had contact with Indian Nations to dispel the stereotype they or their children will grow up with. Last point, American Indians are not “minorities” but Indigenous Peoples, with Rights ingrained and protected by the US Constitution & United Nations ie. the world. No, I am not Indigenous.

  6. Aw heck, I LIKED Fighting “Sioux” (French misnomer notwithstanding). Makes me proud that the Lakota, Dakota, Tsistsistas, and Sky People wiped out the 7th Cavalry at the Little Big Horn for just a tiny drop of retribution for decades of white encroachment into their homeland. C’mon UND, continue to pay honor to these great warriors. And while you’re at it, should change the school song to the Lakota flag song and then I’ll really believe you are “honoring” them.

  7. Matt, it’s easy to tell by your article that you grew up watching the ol’ Cowboys and Injuns movies, you know, the one’s where the Injun is the bad guy and the White guy always wins. I don’t know you, but your article proves that you were probably raised to believe stories that stereotyped Native Americans in negative ways.
    It’s also obvious that you did not thoroughly research “other” infomation before writing your article. This is what needs to happen Matty, History books need to be amended to reveal the truth, and show that it was the Native Americans who were the “civilized” people when Coldumbdes arrived with all his diseased crew. You wrote you would be fan of any team using your name. So what would your grandparents think when you tell that you chose to honor them by using their name as a athletic nickname and mascot. How selfish and dehumanizing!

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