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The Battle Rages

By Staff | Jun 14, 2012

We’ve all heard the term, “Politically Correct” bandied around over the past few years, primarily directed at making sure we use the correct terminology in our everyday life.

When the term “Politically Correct” came around, one of the emphasis points was treating Native Americans with the respect they were due. To be clear, the term Native American refers to residents of American Indian heritage, from such proud tribes as the Crow, Blackfoot, Shawnee, Navajo, Cheyenne, Seminole and Sioux.

Over the years, many communities, schools and organizations drew from the history of Native Americans and their names to identify locations, events, schools, athletic teams and even communities. But, when the idea of “Political Correctness” became more than a buzzword, things began to change.

In the interest of being “politically correct”, it was determined that using drawings of proud Native American Chieftains was disrespectful and should not be done anymore. Suddenly, there was a huge rush, much like shoppers headed to the mall on Black Friday, to divest any type of name associated with Native Americans.

For instance, the Atlanta Braves baseball club had to redesign their team logo. So did the Cleveland Indians. The NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs had to do some changing, and all the organizations did their utmost to discourage their fans from showing up at games wearing war paint, feathered headdresses or other stereotypical costuming.

The push continued into educational ranks, and numerous high schools made changes to their mascots and logos. Spirit Lake maintained the use of the Indians as their team name, but changed their logo. Cherokee continues to use the Braves as an identity, with changes to their mascot as well.

But the University of North Dakota, the Fighting Sioux, resisted the atmosphere of change, using the logic that their logo paid tribute to the spirit and resolve of the Sioux Nation and its proud heritage in the Dakotas. For years, UND resisted complaints from outsiders and groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Collegiate Athletic Association, but in 2011, pressure grew too great. The Federal Government got into the act and basically told the UND that they would change the mascot from the Fighting Sioux or else there would be no federal educational assistance (read that $$$). And, that edict included changing the mascot of a Sioux Warrior. The NCAA jumped on the coattails and said “no more post season appearances until you change your name.

UND had no choice but to comply.

But the citizens of North Dakota didn’t care for this meddling. The North Dakota Legislature passed a law that required the UND to continue to use the Fighting Sioux name and mascot. And that has led to continued verbal sparring over the move since last Fall.

Now, North Dakota residents get a chance to help decide whether the UND’s Fighting Sioux nickname should be saved or scrapped, once and for all.

North Dakota residents who want to see the Fighting Sioux name laid to rest have conducted a petition drive that has led to a public ballot measure that will allow voters to choose whether or not to uphold or reject the Legislature’s repeal of the state law requiring UND to continue using the Fighting Sioux moniker and American Indian head logo. If the measure receives a majority of “yes” votes, it will be the end of the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo.

But, those who support the

However, nickname supporters are promoting a second voter question for this Fall’s elections calling for a Constitutional provision stating that UND would be forever known as Fighting Sioux.

Is there a message to all this? I’m not really sure. It just seems like an ongoing mess that isn’t going to ever be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.