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Should UND keep the Fighting Sioux nickname?

February 12, 2012 - Andrea Johnson
I went to just one football game when I attended the University of North Dakota and it was not entirely voluntary. The group of people I was with did a lot of arm-twisting and cajoling to make me sit in the stadium on a chilly autumn Saturday afternoon. It was probably a special game, maybe a homecoming game, since the Fighting Sioux were playing the NDSU Bison that day. I don't remember who won, since I spent more time reading the book I brought along than I did watching a game I didn't understand the rules to anyway.

What I do remember about that day is looking up every now and then to watch the Fighting Sioux fans in the stands around me swinging a stuffed bison on a rope and shouting cheerful obscenities about UND's rival. The NDSU fans in the stands were chanting similar obscenities about the Fighting Sioux.

I thought about that game the other day when I read about the latest efforts to save the Fighting Sioux nickname. Residents generated 17,000 signatures seeking to put the issue to a statewide vote and UND has resumed using the name until the issue is decided. Critics say that keeping the nickname could lead to sanctions and threaten UND's membership in the Big Sky Conference.

This has been a hot button issue for decades at UND, from long before I was a student there to the present day. I knew people passionate about keeping the nickname and others who were adamant that it and other Indian mascots are racist and an insult to all American Indians.

One thing I took away from my one and only experience in the stands: Real bison aren't going to be insulted if Fighting Sioux fans call it names and swing an effigy around on a rope. UND's mascot is a figurehead showing an American Indian man. When that mascot is abused by fans for the opposing team, I could see that it might be insulting for American Indians.

What's your take on the Fighting Sioux debate?

 
 

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