Is the University of North Dakota doing the right thing in retiring the Fighting Sioux nickname?

Higher education officials have voted to retire the University of North Dakota’s Fighting Sioux nickname by the end of the year, and lawmakers are expected to repeal a law requiring the school to keep it. Today’s Question: Is the University of North Dakota doing the right thing in retiring the Fighting Sioux nickname?

  • Rich

    Sad. It was a great name attached to a good program.

    Perhaps licensing the name could have been a part of the solution.

  • Philip

    It’s sad – caving to the gears of political correctness. What’s next? The baseball teams of Atlanta and Cleveland better come up with different names. Let’s see…the Atlanta Peaches and the Cleveland Foresters. The Redskins should become the Washington Rainouts. Lastly, let’s instill fear in our nations enemies. Let’s rename our main attack helicpoter from Apache to, umm…I know! We’ll call it the Unicorn! But we won’t use it in another Al Qaeda attack, because people are still sore about using the code name Geronimo in the attack on Bin Laden. I guess the SEALS should have yelled “Papa Smurf!”

  • Patt

    I think it’s sad to change the name. I have some Irish in me and I don’t find it offensive with Notre Dame’s “Fighting Irish” as part of their name. People should be proud of their ancestors willingness to fight for things they believed in.

  • Jorand

    It is a positive step. No persons should be made the mascot of others. Native Americans are not mascots, they are a proud and separate culture. Naming cities and rivers and things after them is one thing. Using them as mascots is WRONG.

  • Zach

    /Naming cities and rivers and things after them is one thing./

    I mean no disrespect, but how is naming a team any different than naming “things”? It’s not as if the school was showing any disrespect. Quite the contrary. The school was showing respect by choosing the name to represent their program.

  • Roger Klien

    I think this is a good move. Native American nick names are durogatory as compared to other cultural names because they were never involved, or had input on these sports teams. Further, they have been brutally attacked through genocide, rape of thier lands, and lifestyle. Yes, end those horrible nick names and allow them the tiny bit of dignity they still have.

  • Nik dallos

    I have sioux blood in my heritage and I am honored to have my ancestors likeliness on sports jerseys and what have you. I am also greek and norwegian, but I do not find the michigan state spartans an offensive mascot name. The same goes for the minnesota vikings. Lots of norwegians in minnesota and I dont hear anyone complaining. I would like to know if this was an actual native discussion or a caucasion discussion, because many whites try to be way too politically correct, as if the native nations really care. Someone should talk to the head of the tribe to see if that is what they really want. The anishinabe people of minnesota are laid back, the dakota people are very similar

  • J

    Philip, Philip …. why not the Washington White Boys? How about the Cleveland Klan? Or maybe the Atlanta Rednecks? How about the New York Dagos or the Detroit Uncle Toms?

    I trust I need go no further?

  • Isaac

    It might be unfortunate, but it needed to happen. Native Americans are not objects and we should not make them into such. The NCAA made very clear their stance and UND was aware of the consequences. They chose to change their mascot. In the end, the University and the program are still the same with or without their name. They will play just as well and be just as successful. As far as seeking an endorsement to keep the name? They did and they were not granted one, so the school is doing the right thing. Their namesake is uncomfortable with the name and mascot and wished them not to be used. I think it is very commendable of the school to respect the wishes of their states native peoples.

  • Larry M

    It is a name that time has passed, with the history of negativity and often false portrayals of Native Americans in this country, I think names like this only add insult to real injury.

    It’s hardly necessary to defend team names like this, it’s only a game right?

  • Philip

    J – I’m not going to apologize for any team named after a noble race of people. I am tired of apologizing for it and your drippy remark is proof positive that people need to thicken their skins up and stop worrying so much about their feelings and self-esteem. As I recall, Oprah has now retired her regular show.

  • Philip

    J – one final comment. Perhaps you should read the post by Nik dallos.

  • b

    @ Philip – Regarding your comment to J, one Indian person’s (Nik Dallos) opinion is somehow the opinion of an entire diaspora? And @ Nik, “Someone should talk to the head of the tribe to see if that is what they really want.” Which ‘head’ of which tribe? Today, the “Sioux” maintain many separate tribal governments scattered across several reservations, communities, and reserves in the Dakotas, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Montana in the United States; and Manitoba and southern Saskatchewan in Canada. And those are just the federally recognized tribes – with political leaders. There are many others that identify as Lakota, Dakota, Nakota…… and what if the political leaders said ‘who cares about the name/mascot?’ when was the last time a politician really represented your interest as an individual. The fact is, being made a mascot is offensive to many people, and the argument that “I’m irish, I’m not offended by NotreDame” is a weak one.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Whether “Fightin Sioux” is a phrase that honors the Lakota people is not for me to say, since I’m not Lakota, and I’m given to understand that there’s a variety of opinions among them. However, the fighting they were doing, at least in the 1800s, was to resist oppression and expropriation of their land by white settlers. Not so with the Vikings, who were predatory marauders. They were among my ancenstors, and I do not feel honored by our pro football team using them as a mascot. Maybe I should be protesting that.

  • John

    I believe it is hypocritical to change the name of the Fighting Sioux. The NCAA has been making money hand of fist on fighting Sioux clothing and memorabilia the past 75+ years and will continue to make money on items until the name and logo are retired. UND does not really even have a “mascot” they have a name in honor of the Sioux and a logo create by another Native American. Also why is that Florida Seminal and the Illinois Illini continue to use their Native America logs, names, and mascots? Oh yeah, they Florida and Illinois bring in big money to the NCAA and their tribes “agree” with the usage of their name. So if the NCAA can get big money from schools they can have any name they want and it is not “hostile and abusive”?? This makes no sense.

  • Cynthia

    This is a long overdue decision! It should have been retired years ago. Imagine if we put this much energy into educational practices. The logo keeps UND from flourishing and UND has great potential!

  • AK

    and the non-sense bickering continues…..i get done reading the GF herald and Forum and come to MPR to see what smart, open-minded people are saying…and I find this??

    Can we let it be over? can we let it be over?

  • Donavon

    UND has long argued that it should somehow be a point of pride for native people to have a caricature of what white people believe to be representative of their culture plastered onto sweatshirts, giant foam hands, and collectable figurines. Native Americans, however, have decided that they would rather not be “honored” by an outdated, cartoonish parody of themselves, and it’s good that UND has finally recognized that.

  • Philip

    @ b – One Indian making up the entire diaspora? I don’t think so, as evidenced by the huge controversy. Not only have other Native American’s expressed their ambiguity over this issue, but the North Dakota legislature and the university itself have fought for this name. It seems to me that a bunch of panty-waist liberal elitists, who find it necessary to have a guilt complex over being Caucasian are the ones with the problem here.

  • Wade

    They are not doing the right thing. It’s sad and disturbing that they are caving in the the tree hugging liberals in our society.

  • Jeff Griffin, Minneapolis

    I can’t help but think that there are no winners here, only losers. As a University of North Dakota alumni (Class of ’81) I have many fond memories of the Fighting Sioux and never once did I think of it as a pejorative term. In fact, it always recalled the proud heritage of the Dakota tribes that populated the Great Plains before the arrival of white people, a heritage that I was proud to be a part of — even as only a college student of Norwegian/Irish/Scottish/Danish heritage invoking the name in a competitive spirit. Ironically, the word “Sioux” is a French abbreviation of the Algonquin word for enemy – a name that the Sioux adopted for themselves at some point in the past. Perhaps the wrong tribe was asked for permission.

  • b

    @ Philip – no, the entire population is the diaspora, as evidenced by the meaning of the word. You’re saying only one person feels that this is an insensitive mascot? What it boils down to is that ‘panty-waste liberals,’ as you put it, trust that these people have valid feelings and opinions, and we don’t dismiss it as some liberal scheme to undermine America, as you do. We also trust scientists that humans contribute to global warming, and that the earth is over 6000 years old. I know, i know – all part of an evil liberal scheme to educate people using facts…..

  • Curt

    I grew up in GF area ~ I remember in 6th grade social studies asking “Where did the name Sioux come from” and having a great history lesion.

    Cynthia states that the nickname keeps UND from reaching it’s potential ~ with athletics? Doesn’t seem to have limited the University of Florida. Academically? I would have studied so much harder if only I wasn’t worried about the football team mascot; Or, I would be willing to take my Nobel prize and teach at UND, but won’t because of the school nick-name? I’m not sure what potential Cynthia was thinking of.

  • Jim

    I wonder how they will get the thousands of logs out of their hockey stadium. What will the new mascot be?

  • http://treasurebin.blogspot.com/ Ryan Juel

    If UND is doing the “right thing” by retiring the Fighting Sioux, then I expect rallies on the grounds of Notre Dame next month. The Vikings must follow in October. I’m fine with removing all mentions of race from sports and entertainment, I just take issue with the double standard regarding which races are “protected” and which ones aren’t.

  • Colleen

    This turned into a good illustration of the state of our nation; a question relatively unrelated to government and political opinion takes a turn for the bipartisan worst.

    How did a conversation about UND’s logo turn into finger pointing and name calling?

    There is nothing real and verifiable about liberals and conservatives. It is simply a badge people assign themselves to accrue support and make a bigger, fancier, flashier finger to point at the other side.

    What a shame.

    If there is any dissent within the Sioux tribes, the logo needs to be retired. They are entitled to that much respect, at least.

  • Bill

    Why not?

    I think it’s understandable yet idiotic to name a team after a particular people. Animals are one thing, groups of people are another.

    Sports are waaayyy overrated anyway, get back to basics and don’t piggy back on the good name of people. Make a name for yourselves. Live real life, smoke a doob and take it easy. Creative cooperation trumps competitive commercialism.

  • Michael

    They have no choice having exhausted all possibilities, especially given the criticism of the Sioux mascot from the Dakota people, as well as UND students, staff, and faculty. A little more sensitivity from ND political and economic leaders could have averted this crisis and transformed it into an education opportunity about the Dakota heritage in the state. This is still possible.

  • Norm Ellefson

    The scientific evidence is overwhelming that these images are harmful both both native and non-native people. Those who have followed the issue should be well aware of the ground breaking research of Dr. Stephanie Fryberg that proves, yes proves these logos/mascots are not only derogatory but also discriminatory. There is no peer reviewed scientific research that shows these images produce positive results. The fact is that first nations people are the only, yes, the only racial minority in the United States whose names are used as sports team mascots. What an unbelievable double standard. Native people have been calling for the removal of these names around the country for four decades. I find it comical that they majority of the very people logo supporters say they are honoring are saying please stop

  • David

    UND is being singled out by the NCAA to use as an example of not tolerating these kinds of names. Yet the NCAA permits names like Seminoles, Fighting Illini, and Fighting Irish to continue. I guess these schools can afford to pay off the NCAA where little North Dakota can not. It seems the NCAA treats their member schools according to how much money they generate for the NCAA. I am very disappointed.

  • Norm Ellefson

    People, this is not about offensiveness. Also, the Fighting Irish? Name by those who founded the University – those of Irish Descent. The Irish also happen to be the second largest sub group in the United States. The Vikings? They are still around? Pretty tough to have “a Viking” come to a school and talk about their extinct culture. When did these names emerge? During the early 20th century – the boarding school era of “Kill the Indian, Save the Man.” Indian Country Today conducted a poll asking the 560+ tribal nations in the country whether or not they supported the use of “Indian” logos/mascots. The result? 99% of responding tribes said we want them eliminated. Someone spoke of the Seminole? Did you know the Oklahoma Seminole do not support/endorse the use of the FSU imagery.

  • Riel

    It is common sense logic. If someone asked you to stop kicking them, you’re going to stop, right! The name and logo are harsh, racist and negative. The support makes me sick. I left the community because of the racist negativity. Loose the name!!

  • Shane

    People are too sensitive.

  • Kai

    It’s well outdated and time for change. It’s a similar situation to putting up with an older family member’s blatant racism, except we know their time on this earth is limited so we choose to say nothing to them. Racism in our institutions will live beyond its founding members unless we take these moral corrections. Nobody would name a team the Kamikazes, Somali Pirates, or fighting insurgents today…there is no grandfather clause on this issue

  • pat helmberger

    Yes, the action taken was the correct one. The use of Indian names and logos for sports teams is wrong. If it is an Indian school and they choose a mascot that reflects their culture, that’s fine but when the majority culture takes the name and images of another culture, that isn’t fine.

    In Minnesota nearly all of the public schools have removed their Indian names and mascots under pressure from native people who felt offended by them and by the stereotypical actions such as war whoops, tomahawks, face paint, and fake headdresses. Many of those things have spiritual and cultural meaning that the majority culture often does not understand.

  • Kathy

    I always felt the name honored the Sioux for their bravery.

  • Peter

    So, the Fighting Irish are next, right?

  • Peter

    Native peoples suffered dearly and therefore should not have their names used for any public place. The state of North Dakota should change its name.

  • ju

    I believe UND did a good job of making it more honorable — changing the head from graphic to an actual head should have been enough. It’s a proud legacy. Will the state have to change it’s road signs??

    If UND has to change I believe other teams like the Illinois Illini, Washington Redskins, ANY Ohio team (Reds, Indians, etc), FSU, etc should have to make the costly change.

  • http://www.foundingfathersforum.com Jefferson

    Steve the Cynic – [Whether “Fightin Sioux” is a phrase that honors the Lakota people is not for me to say, since I’m not Lakota, and I’m given to understand that there’s a variety of opinions among them. However, the fighting they were doing, at least in the 1800s, was to resist oppression and expropriation of their land by white settlers. Not so with the Vikings, who were predatory marauders. They were among my ancenstors, and I do not feel honored by our pro football team using them as a mascot. Maybe I should be protesting that.] *** The big problem is that we have protected classes and non-protected classes. For some reason we can have all sorts of teams involving white people’s ansestors (Irish, Celtics and Vikings) without any debate but when we have a team name that refers to a protected class, like the a native american group, we have to get permission, give them money and tiptoe around the issue. Lets just start treating everyone the same stop coddling the protected classes…everyone should be treated the same so take it as an honor your ansestors’ spirit has inspired a community to choose your group as their representative. If you don’t like it you can always go to a game and root for the other team.

  • Mike

    I have been at UND since 1979. The nickname has been a divisive issue as long as I have been here. In my opinion, dropping the name and logo it is the right decision, but 33 years overdue.

  • Joe Schaedler

    I believe the Fighting Sioux nickname’s propriety is an issue for the Dakota comunity of North Dakota. If that constituancy wants the icon & title removed ,then it should be removed. if they are okay with it, then it should be allowed to remain.

    Empowering the actual Sioux of ND is the best course of action on this issue. Perhaps it shuld have been put up for a yea/nay referendum within the Dakota communities of ND?

  • Carter

    Why is it that a public school in a state whose largest minority are Lakota Indian people would spend millions of dollars and time in an effort to offend them? Native people don’t like being used as a “mascot” and have told the school why over many years. We are not ‘honored’ by the portrayal nor do we find it amusing. So in answer to your question, yes, it’s high time the ignorant mascot is put to rest.

    Also some commentors ignorantly put the use of derogatory nicknames of an entire race of people in the same catagory as “Vikings”. The comparison doesn’t hold water for anyone who can think. Native American people are a large and oppressed minority in North Dakota who are struggling to survive on reservation homelands where educational opportunities are very hard to come by. We are not historical remnants of some long ago past.

    Try to remember that it was/is the Lakota students and teachers themselves who have striven long and hard for many years to get rid of the ugly mascot. Science has long shown that stereotypes are harmful and Indian people are not immune to that harm. This is a big victory for them and for all good people who value education and equality.

  • Kevin VC

    I am still upset at Burnsville changing their name of the Burnsville Braves to Blaze.

    Could they have picked a more LAME name?!?!?!

    As long as no one does stupid sh1# like the tomahawk chop…. And continue to be respectful there really is no reason not to honor a great and proud people.

    I know quite a few Sioux and other groups who were kinda upset and surprised with that communities change in names….

    Now on the other hand if a indian community had a issue then there might be reason to worry. Some of these movements are misguided and not understanding of the basis of the names.

    Heck Burnsville if it was worried could have said ‘Burnsville Brave’

    Thus signifying the quality it was looking and honoring. And Brave does not ‘have’ to mean native American/Indian…

    Heck a dude in armor would work as a trade off.

    It does not sound much different then the Dude at the University of Minnesota changing the wording of Huck Fin….. Just to be more ‘politically correct’ or rather his perception of it…..

    Leaving that work as it is teaches us something.

    And sometimes a name left alone also teaches us something.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Have you ever tried hugging a tree, Wade? You might like it. ;^)

  • Steve the Cynic

    “Jefferson”: you have missed the point entirely. Team names like the Celtics and Fighting Irish were chosen by people seeking to honor their own heritage. And obviously, Vikings was chosen for Minnesota, because of the large number of people of Scandinavian heritage in this state (though, why people of Nordic descent would be proud of that history of murderous, predatory marauding is beyond me). On the other hand, when teams have been named for Native American tribes (or worse, with slurs like Redskins), it has been white people doing the naming without consulting the people those names refer to. Now, in recent decades, we’ve been hearing that the vast majority of those people object, and their opinions deserve respect.

  • Mike

    Florida State Seminoles (not Seminal) can keep their name bc Flordia went to the Seminole tribe and they felt it still honored their name.

    The Oklahoma Seminoles really don’t have an argument bc they are not Florida and thus pay no Florida tax and should not have a say

    I think this whole thing has been blown out of proportion on both sides.

    I will say the Burnsville “Braves” elicits a whole different imagery and mindset than “Blaze”, as does the Simpson “Redmen” vs “Storm”.

    How about the Eastern Michigan “Huron” to “Eagles”

    Does Lake Huron have to change its name too?

    Where does it end?

  • Philip

    @b – I like how you immediately draw the conclusion that I don’t believe in global warming or that the earth is only 6,000 years old. I guess that speaks volumes of your ability to analyze issues and people. It also would seem to support the argument of a liberal position and agenda, which doesn’t understand how the silent majority thinks. And yes, the right wing is touched in the head, too (I don’t want to hurt any more feelings).

  • Darren

    I grew up in Grand Forks and my family has been Sioux boosters for years. I have been passionate about UND, the Sioux all my life. I don’t agree with the stance by the NCAA. If you want to take it away, then do it for all, and not allow the biggest universities that have the most money to be exempt.

    In the end, who benefits from this?? No one wins in this situation. The Native American and Sioux cultures are dying, as well as the languages. On a national level, most Americans don’t know many tribe names or anything about them. This was one way to keep that memory alive.

  • Norm Ellefson

    Are you claiming by using this sports team logo/mascot you are helping keep native culture alive? Wow. How about using the classroom to learn about native culture instead of having “Sioux” survival contingent on sports team booster rallies.