Angst over Indian mascot for North Dakota college

Angst over Indian mascot for North Dakota college

“Criticism of team’s name heats up Dartmouth game”

Dartmouth College’s men’s ice hockey team will face off tonight against the University of North Dakota’s powerhouse Fighting Sioux, but the main drama is unfolding far from the ice.

Debate about whether the Fighting Sioux name is offensive has sparked angst and recriminations from Hanover to Grand Forks, with even North Dakota’s governor, a Dartmouth alumnus, weighing in.

Josie Harper, Dartmouth’s athletic director, wrote a letter to the student newspaper, The Dartmouth, last month about the game, saying: “I must offer a sincere apology to the Native American community and the Dartmouth community as a whole for an event that will understandably offend and hurt people within our community.”

Dartmouth, in Hanover, N.H., has decided to set up a committee that will consider whether the school should refuse to compete against teams that use Native American nicknames and mascots.

The university jettisoned its Indian mascot in the 1970s, while the University of North Dakota staunchly defends its Sioux name. After the National Collegiate Athletic Association last year banned schools that use “hostile or abusive” Native American imagery from hosting postseason championship games, the state of North Dakota sued the NCAA on behalf of the university. The case is still in the courts.

What we don’t see at all in the article is a single quote from any Native American—never mind, any Sioux—on what they think of the mascot. Instead we get the usual white, liberal hand-wringing that is just another form of the usual patronizing condescension. Has anybody considered that maybe some Native Americans might be honored that their culture is held in such high esteem? I don’t see the politically correct hordes rising up to protest the “Fighting Irish” mascot at Notre Dame, concerned at the continuation of such stereotypes.

However, I found the formulation of the defense of the school’s mascot a bit strange too, but that may not be the defender’s fault since it’s not in a direct quote:

Kupchella wrote that the Fighting Sioux image is a respectful one designed by an American Indian artist and cited a poll that found that support for the university among American Indians would not change if the school altered its nickname.

That’s not exactly the same as saying that the same American Indians (ALERT: non-PC name! Call the ombudsman!) actually like the logo. Hypothetically, if support among Indians is already zero and changing the nickname doesn’t result in an uptick in support, then that’s not a ringing endorsement of the status quo.

In the end, I think the reporter just didn’t report the whole story. Instead we got stereotypical boilerplate.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli