Monday, May 01, 2006

UND Hockey Nickname

The University of North Dakota, like most universities, has a mascot; ours just happens to be contriversal.

UND is the Fighting Sioux. This has come under fire in recent years, with some people wanting to change it (with charges that it's racist), and others wanting to keep it (because it's part of the UND tradition).

For those of you unfamiliar, here's a quick timeline (for a longer timeline, here's a biased one in favor of removing the name:

In 1930, UND became the "Fighting Sioux". For the next 70 years, there is contention over this nickname. In 1990, more and more groups formed to get rid of the Sioux nickname. In 2000, it looked like we were going to change the name.

Then in 2001, Ralph Englestad gave 100 million dollars for a new hockey rink, with the condition that we had to keep the nickname. To make sure that the nickname "sticks", many logos were put into the arena, including being stamped right into the bricks of the building.

Now, the NCAA has issued that they will not allowUND (and three other institutions with Native nicknames) to host play-off games or use uniforms with the names or logo until the name is changed, citing the nickname as "hostile and abusive". UND has lost its final appeal with the NCAA, and now it has to go to the federal courts (right now, Sioux diehards are pleading either antitrust (since NCAA is a virtual monopoly), or discrimination, since other nicknames are allowed like the Fighting Irish). For UND alumns and students, there is a forumfor talking about it.

I've got to say, I didn't really have an opinnion about this. As far as I was concerned, arguing about this was missing the larger issue: namely, the fact that sports take up HUGE portions of my tuition unnecessarily. The fact that the state and community was racist, and specifically racist towards Natives, was a such a "duh" thing that I didn't think anybody disputed it. I figured they were going to spend more time and effort over the problems on the reservation with poverty and low health, the names of the cities (Devil's Lake, anyone?) and the budget cuts to the Indian Studies department.

Now that I've researched it, however, I think the logo has to change. I'm not thrilled with it: I dislike that I'm going to have a SERIOUS increase in my tuition. I dislike that the ONLY reason UND became open to having Native students and an Indian Studies program was because they entered into a thieve's bargin: UND uses the name, they get their department.

Some claim that the name isn't racist, that it's an "honor". Well, I'm not sure about that, I'm not Native, I can't know for sure. My first inclination is "I don't care about the Viking's logo, and that's my ancestors", but that's not the same.

A) As a white person, I'm priveleged in that I get to be the norm. People don't look at me and assume I'm a Viking. I don't have a "Viking culture" that I have any need or want to defend.

B) I believe that people should respect other people's wishes. The only thing that analogous is being a women: I don't like being called "baby" or "Miss". I don't like being wolf-whistled at. I've heard people say that I shouldn't be offended, because it's a "compliment", and look at all the women who are complimented by it. But if I'm not complimented, it's NOT a compliment, it's an insult. If the Natives are saying that it is offensive, I'm going to believe them; even if it's only some of the Natives.

This is not morally defensible. "Tradition" isn't enough to justify continued racism. We need to change the nickname, even though it is expensive.


At 9:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm, I wonder if you can find enough people to make a case against Fighting Irish. I'm not offended by their name, but I can see where their name can be considered "hostile and abusive". If you look closely at their logo, it looks like the leprecaun has swilled a pint or six and is ready to tear up the pub, not all Irish people get drunk and get into bar fights.

At 9:59 PM, Blogger Goddess Cassandra said...

Then they SHOULD change the name. I've got to say, it does seem racist to me. Irish people aren't all drunk, and they are historically an oppressed American population.

At 9:47 AM, Anonymous Teddy said...

You change sides. You seem apathetic for half the article, then out of nowhere realize that one side goes along with your value set and another does not, and suddenly take the second side.

As I understand a political blog, the primary difference between this animal and a personal blog is that a personal blog is an excersize in introversion and as such spontaneous drafting and freewriting works well. In a political blog, you are making an argument and as such more drafting and pre-writing pondering is necessary.

Be careful what you wish for.


wordveri: bevucpg. bevucepagee (Bay-view-seh-pa-jee). a complete and total idiot, or a person from bevucepa, although oftentimes the two are the same.

At 2:01 PM, Blogger Goddess Cassandra said...


You're confusing "blog" with "Online Newspaper". The two are not the same.

This is a politcal web-log. This measns it will deal primarily with politics, but it is MY blog, and therefore my opinion.

In the Fighting Sioux controversy, I did have, at first, no opinion. This was simply about what was going on.

After researching it, however, i did come up with an opinion, because although I still don't think it's the most important issue in the world, the Natives have the moral high ground.

At 5:41 PM, Anonymous gratch said...

as for the nick name, dont really care one way or another. If the people for whom it is named after dont like it then it should be changed. I also must agree that to much is spent on sports, not a fan and dont want to pay into it. besides money should not be a concern when something should be changed for the better.

One thing I must say though is that as someone who doesnt follow or care about sports I dont want to pay for something i dont and wont support to begin with.

At 5:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reason for the current logo persisting through all the criticism is money. This is no secret. The team needs money to stand a fighting chance, and the only way they currently have of getting that money is to appeal to a wealthier person.

As it stands, the only wealthy enough person with an interest in sponsoring this team is one with very unpopular beliefs - a person who demands that the team make som amoral choices to receive their needed funding. Since there're no legal grounds for demanding that the logo be changed, someone will have to appeal to the moral fiber of the people in charge, or those of the current sponsor.

In the end the administration has four options: Try to change the sponsor's opinion, find someone else who will sponsor the team, leave the logo as is, or give up on making it big in sports. I wonder how hard they've tried for the first two options...

At 1:38 PM, Blogger Jeni.Ann said...

There needs to be some minor clarification here; UND has a logo, not a mascot. The Florida State Seminoles have a mascot along with their logo. The official logo of the University of North Dakota is not even the Sioux head emblem, it is (this blog doesn't let me put images in).

Well, I hate to say this, but a large portion of the Native community fully supports the logo, while an equally large portion of the Native community fully despises the logo. Personally, as a student, I would prefer that our administration's efforts go into actually effecting better changes, such as improved housing, improved instructors, more access to resources, etc. For some reason, though, they seem to be focusing on the area of the university that actually makes them lots of money: hockey.

Yes, god of all gods, hockey. If you look at the other sports, they are not sporting the big, bold, athletic department's Sioux logo. Instead, they are wearing the interlocked UND. This should all be dropped, the discussion/debate, and just take us back to our days of being the Flickertails if no one can do what's right and just move on with life.

At 2:37 PM, Anonymous jamie buchite said...

WOW, I can't believe some of the ignorance here from people who have supposedly "researched" this issue.

First off, "Give up on making it big in sports." The ONLY reason many people know that UND exists is the college hockey team. The Fighting Sioux have been and continue to be a national title contending team year in and out. Do you think that alone doesn't bring in a significant amount of money into the school? Like it or not couch slouches, college level sports are a significant money maker for schools. It has also been proven that a sports team adds a great deal of positive morale to cities, as well as significantly increasing the local economy. It gives people some to take interest in, especially for students, and gives many people who are unable to actually participate a reason to take personal pride in their university. If you lackees don't like sports, then stay home, play video games, and eat Doritos. Why do you feel the need to take things away from the rest of the community just because it isn't something of importance to you.

A sports team is, and does represent the very best a city or University has to offer. Academic standards along with sportsmanship and integrity are components of any team. People say that having a nickname is an "honor" for those reasons. A team puts it's best foot forward and represents the community as a whole, having a logo or nickname would be considered an honor by most anyone.

I would bet my bottom dollar that the natives that are complaining right now wouldn't have any problems cashing a check from the "Fighting Sioux" casino.

Just so you know, I don't really even care for the Sioux, as I am a tried and true Gopher fan, but it would be a great shame if the name and image of the team changed due to some feeling-guilty-about-nothing, whiney, namby-pamby-nothing-better-to-do liberals without a cause

At 7:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Goddess Cassandra. I agree with your deduction on this one. And, I am Native American. Change the name because I (and many others) say it is harmful. Even if we don't find incidences of racism at UND, we find disrespect, time and time again, at sporting events, in casual conversations across campus and Grand Forks, and, most of all, NONEDUCATION of non-Indian people (some minorities do it also, mind you) on American Indians (their neighbors as ND has about 5.5% of the population being American Indian ** See the ND Indian Affairs Commission website at! It's not like the info isn't out there to get oneself education!


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