The Showdown over the use of American Indian Logo
06-16-2006, 10:34 PM
The Showdown over the use of American Indian Logo
Chuck Haga, Star Tribune
GRAND FORKS, N.D. - In the showdown over the use of an American Indian nickname and logo, the NCAA leads its series with the University of
North Dakota 3-0.
But the Fighting Sioux are still fighting.
Trounced last year by an NCAA mandate to change its 80-year-old
Fighting Sioux nickname or lose some postseason rights, then rebuffed twice on
appeals, the university now wants to take the battle of wills into
court. On Thursday the State Board of Higher Education gave its blessing.
After conferring in closed session with state Attorney General Wayne
Stenehjem and UND President Charles Kupchella in Williston, the higher
education board voted 8-0 "to authorize a lawsuit to be filed against the
NCAA concerning its recent action on the Sioux nickname and logo," said
Pat Seaworth, general counsel to the board.
A defiant Kupchella had suggested the action, and the board asked
Stenehjem to review the matter. The attorney general recommended going ahead
with a suit, Seaworth said.
Timing and whether the suit would be filed in state or federal court
and other aspects "will be decided by the attorney general," Seaworth
said. The board directed that it be paid for by privately collected funds,
not taxpayer money.
Some oppose retaining logo
Kupchella had described himself as "angry" before heading to Williston
for the board meeting. "This is a crime," he said.
He recently sent a stinging letter to the NCAA in which he accused the
association of "careless, irrational, arbitrary, capricious and
ultimately harmful behavior."
He said he has broad support on campus and among alumni, but he
acknowledged that some American Indians on campus and off oppose retaining the
Sioux nickname and logo. The university offers more than 30 programs
for American Indians and counts about 400 native students in its
enrollment of about 13,000.
David Gipp, a Lakota Indian from the Standing Rock Indian Reservation
and a 1969 UND graduate, now president of a tribal college in Bismarck,
had urged the board in a letter not to extend the logo controversy by
suing the NCAA.
"We would hope that rather than spend funds on a lawsuit, the funds
were instead used to create more opportunities for American Indians, and
all North Dakotans, to improve their lives and to promote diversity,"
Gipp wrote. "Indeed, a university president's valuable time would be
better spent on issues of academic opportunity and diversity. That is a
tradition of which we all can be proud."
On a bulletin board outside an Indian Studies office at UND, a poster
says, "For a better UND -- people, not logos." A cartoon posted there
shows a white man dressed in a feathered headdress and buckskin and
carrying a tomahawk. "Hey, it's to honor you, Dude," he says to a skeptical
Leigh Jeannote, director of American Indian Student Services at UND,
said the dissenters on campus include many non-Indian students and staff
"Using people as mascots is the wrong thing to do," Jeannote said.
"This has really divided our campus community. We're getting calls from
parents asking about 'the hostile environment' here."
Others dropped nicknames
Scores of colleges and universities have dropped Indian nicknames and
logos in recent years, and the NCAA last year directed several holdouts
to follow suit or forfeit the right to host postseason tournaments or
use their logos and nicknames on uniforms during those tournaments.
"The great weight of authority, and information gathered [by the
NCAA]," show that use of Native American imagery, when exploited in
athletics, creates an environment that is demeaning, insensitive, hostile or
abusive to the Native American community," the chairman of the NCAA's
executive committee wrote in a letter last month to Kupchella.
Some tribal officials in North Dakota have told the NCAA that they are
not offended by UND's use of the Sioux nickname, but others have taken
stands against it.
The NCAA has allowed some schools to retain their Indian nicknames,
such as the Florida State Seminoles, because the schools could show they
had tribal support.
"The fundamental irrationality of calling what we do hostile and
abusive ... and then saying that a white guy in war paint, carrying a flaming
spear while riding a horse into a stadium, leading [Florida State] fans
in a tomahawk chop while singing an Indian chant, should be obvious to
any jury," Kupchella told the NCAA.
He said this week that the university "is in dialogue with the tribes,
exploring ways we can take [the Sioux connection] and morphing it into
something more inclusive [and] respectful." At the suggestion of a
Dakota spiritual elder who visited the campus, UND changed plans to paint a
Sioux logo on an athletic court floor, Kupchella said, and stopped
calling its concession-stand hot dogs "Siouxper dogs."
Chuck Haga * 612-673-4514
©2006 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.
D. Peer Nyberg, education director
American Indian OIC
1845 East Franklin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55404
612)341-3358 ext. 107
Fax: 612) 341-3766
06-17-2006, 04:24 PM
i read about that today.
i wonder if the sioux would be content with them not necessarily gettng rid of using indians as their logo but making the mascot into a more honorable character.
white folks have the patriots, the yankees, the rangers, the cowboys... etc and i would think the reason they don't rally againt those images is because they are percieved to be shows of respect.
06-18-2006, 03:18 AM
for what and for whom
White folks got the whole dang country practically, I seriously don't think they are going to miss one more Indian mascot/logo. And even if North Dakota State should change their logo, there is still the Washington Redskins, the Cleveland Indians, and the Chicago Blawkhawks. And by the way the Texas Rangers was that name given to an armed militia in Texas who killed Indians for a living, at one time that is. So yeah, the Texas Rangers.
The only thing left is for some really wealty casino rich tribe to buy their own team and call it the fighting whitees and see how that goes over. Besides, the whole ND thing is about an alumni who basically gave something like a katrillion dollars to his alma mater to emblazon the Fighting Sioux mascot all over the school, and the school probably doesn't have the money to tear it all down and start over again, which is what they will be forced to do should they lose this court battle.
And to water down the Fighting Sioux logo and mascot, an image that to my mind dehumanizes Native people (and Native men specifically) through the imagery of the blood thirsty and noble savage, is no less wrong. Change the mascot, I say, and let's move on. To allow these cases to keep coming, would be a green light to the NCAA to reverse its decision. I remember where I was when I heard the news. I was quite happy to hear that the NCAA had made a political decision to respect the wishes of so many Native people who wrote in and said, "no more." I was among those who wrote to the NCAA committee. So, to think that these mascots can be changed to represent a "good character"... I can't swallow that. Tell it to the student who plays NCAA basketball and has live through white people yelling racial ephitets on the court during the game. It happened at Texas A & M to a basketball player.( In some way what these mascots do is allow even uglier racism to go unaddressed because there is a larger culture out there that is told it cannot be held accountable.) And, tell it to the woman who has been fighting this issue for the past twenty years. I hope the NCAA sticks to its decision. I hope more people find it in themselves to think about what these mascots and logos represent. There are several articles written by a lot of people on this issue, and they have put forth an entire arguement that should be learned and relearned until we get this right.
06-18-2006, 03:38 AM
so if you had a team what would you have as a mascott?
do you think most people fighting against the UND logo prefer the geometric logo? or something completely different? and if completely different, what?
or do you think the whole worldview that requires logos and mascotts in the firstplace need to be examined and perhaps discarded?
06-18-2006, 11:08 PM
I don't have a team so I really can't say. Maybe the Skylarks.
I am not sure what people prefer with regards to the ND logo.
I do think that the University of North Dakota should follow the decision of the NCAA committee and honor its wishes. I don't think we have think in terms of excess to think this matter through carefully.
06-23-2006, 12:59 AM
I agree. I think the NCAA's ruling should be enforced.
I just learned that the Ghanaian national soccer team is called the BlackStars... so I was wondering what teams would be called if Indians ran the school.
I'd call my team the Alchemists or the Liberators. Or maybe the Medicene Men. Or maybe the Creators. They might sound better in different languages too...
06-25-2006, 02:11 PM
This is short piece is dated in that there have been new twists and turns in the NCAA's decision making process. But it does contain a list a schools whose logos/names/mascots are being banned by the NCAA. The question is too: why haven't more people made their voices heard on this issue?
NCAA Bans 18 Racist Mascots
The National Collegiate Athletic Association launched a storm of controversy when it announced last Friday that it is banning the use of 18 Indian mascots and nicknames during NCAA-sanctioned events beginning next February. Among those banned are the Florida State Seminoles, sparking criticism from Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Governor Bush said the decision insulted the Florida State University and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Bush said, "It's ridiculous. How politically correct can we get? The folks that make these decisions need to get out more often." Florida State University is planning an appeal and Attorney Barry Richard, who represented George W. Bush during the 2000 presidential recount, has agreed to represent FSU if needed.
The Native community has been working for more than 50 years to ban images and names like Cleveland's chief wahoo, the Washington Redskins, the Kansas city chiefs and the Atlanta Braves.
A Spokesperson from the National Coalition on Racism in Sports and Media said: "The American public has been conditioned by the sports industry, educational institutions and the media to trivialize Indigenous culture as common and harmless entertainment. On high school and college campuses Native American students do not feel welcome if the school uses as its mascot a Chief, the highest political position you can attain in our society. Using our names, likeness and religious symbols to excite the crowd does not feel like honor or respect, it is hurtful and confusing to our young people."
Colleges and universities subject to the new policy:
Alcorn State University (Braves)
Central Michigan University (Chippewas)
Catawba College (Indians)
Florida State University (Seminoles)
Midwestern State University (Indians)
University of Utah (Utes)
Indiana University-Pennsylvania (Indians)
Carthage College (Redmen)
Bradley University (Braves)
Arkansas State University (Indians)
Chowan College (Braves)
University of Illinois-Champaign (Illini)
University of Louisiana-Monroe (Indians)
McMurry University (Indians)
Mississippi College (Choctaws)
Newberry College (Indians)
University of North Dakota (Fighting Sioux)
Southeastern Oklahoma State University (Savages)
06-25-2006, 02:21 PM
aanikenz Wrote:The question is too: why haven't more people made their voices heard on this issue?
for me personally, it's just a symptom of a larger problem.. and so rather than spend valuable time attacking this one symptom, i'd rather work on attacking the root of the problem.
but perhaps someone could write a commentary on this for the liberator? you perhaps?
06-30-2006, 12:21 PM
No, I would decline that invitation. Sure, it is a symptom of a larger problem, and it doesn't sound like something that you personally are going to spend your valuable time on. Had I not posted it here... it wouldn't have even been a topic. That tells me that mascots are not something that make you uncomfortable. So, no. Let's end this discussion here.
06-30-2006, 12:48 PM
no, no, no. please don't get offended.
that wasn't my point.
what i'm saying is that me personally, i look for the roots of problems. even when dealing with my friends, i'm not a very emotional person. that's just my personality. very direct and straightforward. my good friend just passed away and i'm hurt, but i'm not one to linger on those feelings... i want to act to attack what i percieve to be the reason that my friend was murdered in the first place.
to me... i'm honestly disgusted by the fact that people actually defend this mascot. but the question i ask, is, why are they defending it?
what is it about them that makes them feel it's okay?
and once that "it" is identified, then i feel my job is to fight against that "it" rather than go to a protest about banning the mascot... (metaphorically speaking)
i feel like even if we did win the mascot battle, that the "it" would merely be manifested in a different way. so in that way you could say i am a more radical thinker.
it's like bono and U2 and the "live aid/8" thing... i'm not too interested in that... because i view it as them just putting a band aid on the situation.
to me what needs to happen is a shift in people's worldview and paradigms... i feel like if we spent more time promoting that, we could topple that "it" at its root...
i feel like the dr. john henrik clarke's and the w.e.b. dubois' of the world were on that path and that's the path that i should be on also.
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