The Spirit Lake Sioux tribe has certainly become the fly in the ointment in the on-going controversy over the University of North Dakota’s “Fighting Sioux” nickname. They seem, in particular, to have gotten under the skin of the Fargo Forum’s editorial board which, in a fit of pique no doubt brought on by a declining sense of relevance, suggested that the Spirit Lake Sioux are a “cabal of North Dakotans who won’t accept the reality that the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux logo is history” who are “aided and abetted” by “obtuse bloggers” like myself.
I’m not sure why they made “bloggers” plural. The only blog that has weighed in on this matter is this one, but whatever. A North Dakota reader on Twitter called this “one of the most arrogant and condescending pieces I’ve ever read on any media,” but it’s really just par for the course for the folks at the Forum who have raised editorial incivility to an art form.
What has their collective panties in a twist if the audacity of actual Sioux Indians disagreeing with their editorial position about the “Fighting Sioux” nickname and logo, which is that it should go. The tribe wrote a letter to the Big Sky conference (read it here) expressing their support for the nickname, and communicating their sense that efforts to get rid of it are an attack on their heritage.
“The letter purports to represent the sentiments of the Sioux tribe in favor of keeping the logo,” writes the Forum. “There is no convincing evidence, however, that the self-styled group is representative of anything but itself.”
No convincing evidence, that is, except for the vote the Spirit Lake Tribe took in 2009 in which 67% of the tribe approved of the nickname. But so much for inconvenient facts.
Remember that this fight over the nickname was picked by people who told us that it had to go because it was insensitive to and intolerant of Native American culture and heritage. Yet, come to find out, a great deal (if, admittedly, not all) of Sioux Indians like the nickname and consider the pipe ceremony in which it was bestowed upon the University of North Dakota in 1969 to be a significant part of their history in North Dakota and relationship to the state.
And now we’re told by the oh-so-tolerant folks at the Fargo Forum in an intemperate editorial tirade that not only are these feelings of heritage and tradition irrelevant, they’re the ginned-up concoction of political ideologues. As if actual Sioux Indians somehow don’t have the moral standing to have an opinion on the use of their own namesake.
Talk about turning an issue on its head. The proponents of retiring the nickname in the name of tolerance to Sioux Indians are utterly intolerant of the opinions on the matter of actual Sioux Indians. Or, at least, the Sioux Indians who don’t have the right position, I guess.