VIRG FOSS: Readers weigh in on Sioux nicknameMy column last week explored the fringes of why Fighting Sioux hockey is so huge in this area, and why the UND nickname and logo carry a profound and deep meaning to so many fans.
By: Virg Foss, Grand Forks Herald
My column last week explored the fringes of why Fighting Sioux hockey is so huge in this area, and why the UND nickname and logo carry a profound and deep meaning to so many fans.
I asked readers for their thoughts. Several dozen of you replied. Thanks to all who did. Here are excerpts from a few of the letters.
Scott Kuntz, Grand Forks, after a vacation trip to Arizona and wearing the Sioux jersey to a Phoenix Coyote NHL game: “Suddenly for a few short hours while I walked the plaza, the local establishments and the arena, I was treated like a rock star. Every couple of minutes someone would high-five me, yell ‘Go Sioux’ or stop and tell us how much they respect the jersey and the team. It is the most recognizable icon and respected symbol in all of North Dakota. There is not another logo from North Dakota that makes me feel as proud of our state as a Sioux jersey. To do away with it would be more than a shame.”
Former Sioux player Mike Baumgartner, Roseau, Minn.: “The one thing that stands out for me is that if you travel around North Dakota, all the way to Medora and between, you will always run into tons of people wearing Fighting Sioux jerseys and hats. That tells me the people of the state think it is important and that they are proud of the name and the heritage.”
Randy Telander, Missouri: “It is with great respect and pride that we use the name of the indigenous people from North Dakota. It also stands for doing the right thing and doing our best. We have team spirit that includes family, state and school. And because we have been successful with these values, it is very hurtful when some self-righteous group or committee from the NCAA decided that it isn’t so, then bully us into being someone else. What a devastating low blow they have delivered to the UND Fighting Sioux fans and alums, the Sioux people and the relationship between the two.”
Nancy Rauser, Sioux fan: “Taking away the Sioux name, when the tribal chiefs allowed UND to use it, signed an agreement about it . . . what’s the difference between this and the government signing so many treaties and then breaking them? They were all agreements, signed in trust and hope, and all negated.”
Todd Seguin, Fargo: “I wore a Sioux hockey jersey to a Buffalo Sabres game and a guy pulled out $400 and wanted to buy it from me right there. I refused to part with it. One does not give up the Sioux jersey — even for $400.”
Mark Fjelde, Fargo native: “Ignorance seems to lead to the abuse and offense Miles Brand (former NCAA president) tried to conquer simply by imposing the will of the NCAA edict, when knowledge and education seem better vehicles to eliminate prejudice. Putting the name behind us seems more like burying our hearts at Wounded Knee, a missed opportunity to shatter ignorance and reconcile history by using it to honor Native Americans.”
David Swenson, Grand Forks native: “As I understand the origins of the Sioux name, it was not a very nice word 150 years ago. Sioux was a name given to the Dakota by rival tribes and is said to have carried the meaning of ‘little snakes.’ That was then and now it created an amount of respect for the Native American community that could have never happened without UND using it over the last many years. The respectful use of the Sioux could arguably be one of the most positive public images of native pride across our country.”
Foss is a Hall of Fame journalist who reported on sports for 36 years for the Herald until his retirement. He writes a weekly column from October through April. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (701) 772-9272.