"The feathers symbolize the outstanding rewards that students, faculty, staff and alumni will achieve for academic, athletic and lifelong excellence. The determined look in the eyes symbolizes fortitude and never giving up and the focus necessary for sustained academic, athletics and lifelong achievement. The paint on the cheekbone symbolizes that life can be a battle and we have daily struggles. The color green symbolizes the development of young people and their growth at the University of North Dakota. The color yellow symbolizes the sun which provides humanity, light and warmth in order that life may continue. The color red symbolizes the lifeblood that has been poured out to make our state and peoples great."
Monday, March 26, 2012
By now you have probably all heard about the ongoing dilemma the University of North Dakota finds itself in regarding the use of their long time nickname, the "Fighting Sioux".
North Dakota was once known as the "Flickertails", but officially became "The Sioux" back in 1930, with the descriptor "Fighting" being added during the 1960's.
In the 1960's, protests began against the use of Native American names and imagery, focused on such teams as the Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves of Major League Baseball and Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Redskins of the NFL getting the most publicity. While some consider the names to be a tribute to the most positive and desirable traits of native peoples, others say the names, and particularly some of the imagery, such as logos and mascots, are demeaning in their perpetuation of negative stereotypes.
It's a devisive issue however, as a poll by Sports Illustrated concluded although most Native American activists and tribal leaders consider Indian team names and mascots offensive, neither Native Americans in general nor a cross section of U. S. sports fans agree, stating "There is a near total disconnect between Indian activists and the Native American population on this issue."
The protests against major league teams has resulted in the most publicity, but little to no changes. The impact on high school and college names has been a different story though. In 2005 the NCAA required schools to discontinue their use of names they deemed "hostile and abusive", but certain schools had already begun voluntarily changing their names.
Some schools have taken steps to gain approval for their names from local tribes in order to continue their use of Native American names, with the Florida State Seminoles being the most cited example, while Marquette, Miami of Ohio, UMass Lowell, Quinnipiac and St. John's all took the route of changing to new names.
Meanwhile, North Dakota has attempted to take the route of gaining local approval and maintaining the use of "Fighting Sioux", with the Spirit Lake Sioux tribe agreeing, but the Standing Rock Sioux tribe withholding their approval. Without the needed approval by the October 1, 2009 deadline, various motions have been passed to phase out the use of the name by the end of the 2010-11 sports season, only to be superseded by the North Dakota Senate passing legislation ordering the school to retain the use of it's nickname!
Additionally, a petition has been completed that would put the issue to a statewide vote, all of which sees the University still using the name "Fighting Sioux". However... the NCAA has not changed it's stance on the issue, and sent a letter to the University on March 1, 2012 restating it's current policies concerning the school's participation in NCAA championships and stating that the school risks losing the right to host any postseason games if their athletes cheerleaders or even their band display the name "Fighting Sioux" or their American Indian head logo, which was designed by Bennett Brien, an American Indian artist who holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from UND.
Brien describes his logo with the following statement.
The logo debuted in 2001-02 to coincide with the opening of the brand new, state-of-the-art Ralph Engelstad Arena, paid for by Engelstad, the "Fighitng Sioux" name's most public and ardent supporter, who incorporated literally thousands of examples of the Indian head logo into the new facility and threatened to halt construction of the arena the moment the school dropped his beloved "Fighting Sioux" nickname.
It's our contention that if any attempt were ever made to remove the logo embedded into the floor of the arena's lobby, Engelstad's passion for the name would have demanded that the building be designed to implode into itself!
The NCAA then reaffirmed it's stance on March 1, 2012, in anticipation of both the men's and women's teams being named to their respective national tournaments, that any UND teams participating in postseason games using the logo would risk forfeiture of the game and the NCAA reserves the right to seek reimbursement for expenses incurred, all of which leads us up to this past weekend, as the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux men were named the #1 seed in the West Regional of the 2012 Division I Men's Ice Hockey Championship in St. Paul, Minnesota.
North Dakota's first game came on Saturday against the Western Michigan Broncos, and for the occasion, UND wore new jerseys, as illustrated by today's featured jersey, a 2011-12 University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux Dan Senkbeil jersey. The new uniforms feature the name "North Dakota" arched around each players number. Additionally, the green shoulder yoke contains a ND monogram, but no signs of Brien's banned "Sioux head" logo to be found, prompting the fans of the rival Minnesota Golden Gophers to chant "Where's your lo-go? Where's your lo-go?" on one occasion during their 5-2 win over the North Dakota, um..., uh..., North Dakotas? Flickertails? No Namers? Suhakis?
While the NCAA may have the authority to tell the school what their players, cheerleaders and band can wear, the public is still free to choose to wear what they please, and the fans of the Fighting Sioux travel very well to events like the NCAA playoffs. This past weekend was no exception, as they showed by the thousands in St. Paul wearing many, many different styles of jerseys from the history of the Fighting Sioux hockey program, which dates back to 1932.
Here is a slideshow of the photos we took of the fans in attendance, wearing as many varieties as we could document over the course of two days.
For a complete look at the history of the jerseys worn by the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux, we highly recommend the excellent Sioux-Jersey.com.
Today's video segment begins with the end of the National Anthem from a Fighting Sioux game.
Next up, supporters of the Fighting Sioux name turn in their petitions to support a public vote to keep the name.
Here is a video which documents the ongoing battle over the name Fighting Sioux. This video was posted to youtube in December of 2010 before several subsequent events in the controversy, as mentioned above, including the state senate mandating use of the name after the school had made final plans to discontinue it's use.
Get yours while you still can!