Erich Longie, Fort Totten, N.D., column: Too many lies for too many years about nickname
By Erich Longie FORT TOTTEN, N.D. -- In his story, "Another fight on the Fighting Sioux," Herald staff writer Chuck Haga begins with the phrase, "Another chapter in the long and bitter struggle over UND's Fighting Sioux nickname and logo" (Page A...
By Erich Longie
FORT TOTTEN, N.D. -- In his story, "Another fight on the Fighting Sioux," Herald staff writer Chuck Haga begins with the phrase, "Another chapter in the long and bitter struggle over UND's Fighting Sioux nickname and logo" (Page A1, Jan. 10).
Haga's description is spot on. The struggle has been long and bitter with no hopes of it going away soon, at least not if three legislators get their way.
Why has it lasted so long? Why is it so bitter? And when will it end?
Supporters say the nickname and logo honor the Sioux. For years, this has been and remains the primary reason hardcore logo supporters use when giving their justification to keep the logo. Why don't the majority of us Sioux believe them?
Because it is a lie, pure and simple.
There have been testimonies by American Indian students, including this writer, who have attended UND and know firsthand that the nickname and logo do not honor the Sioux. There have been many quantitative and qualitative studies dispelling this myth/lie. But it stubbornly continues to be the No. 1 lie repeated when justifying the reason to keep the logo.
Furthermore, when we refuse to believe this lie, it usually is followed by threats such as "let's take away their free schooling" or "I will not spend my money at Indian casinos" and so on.
You do not propose to honor a race of people and then threaten them. Finally, you do not shove it down their throats through legislation if they don't accept the "honor" -- that is, unless you did not have any respect for them to begin with.
Lately, another disturbing lie has surfaced, and it goes something like this: "A vote wasn't taken at Standing Rock, despite a petition signed by more than 1,000 people asking for a referendum."
This statement is pure misrepresentation and a totally inaccurate portrayal of what really happened at Standing Rock.
The truth is that a vote was held at Standing Rock, and the majority of the districts voted overwhelmingly against the name. And, yes, the Standing Rock Tribal Council was given a petition in support of the name. But the council also was given another petition against the name, and more tribal members had signed the petition against the name than had signed the petition for it. Majority wins --- right?
The "vote wasn't taken at Standing Rock" fabrication now has led to a bill that totally disregards Standing Rock's sovereignty. If the bill passes, it will "force" Standing Rock to have a "vote."
This bill should send chills throughout Indian County, and among tribal members who support as well as oppose the nickname. If the bill passes, can people imagine what a similar bill will do the next time the tribes have something North Dakota wants?
Our ancestors were strong believers in honesty. A chronic liar was put to death. "A person who was capable of lying was believed to be capable of committing other cowardly crimes against the tribe and was put to death to prevent the evil from doing more harm," wrote Dr. Charles Eastman, a Sioux physician and reformer.
In modern times, Dr. Scott Peck wrote a book titled "People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil." In a nutshell, Peck believed evil is a tangible force in the universe that manifests itself through people who are self-righteous (liars). Self-righteous people (liars) "commonly hate with the pretense of love, for the purposes of self-deception as much as deception of others."
Sound familiar? But we're honoring you; can't you understand that?
Peck and our Sioux ancestors' sense that lies and liars create serious issues for a society would explain why it has been a "long and bitter struggle over UND's Fighting Sioux nickname." Specifically, it would explain why it has caused so many problems between non-Indians and Indians, serious difficulties for most American Indian students attending UND, unrest on both Standing Rock and Spirit Lake reservations and harm to UND locally, regionally and nationally.
We Sioux are a proud people who do not like to be lied to time after time. This is the reason why the "the struggle has been long and bitter" with no chance of ever going away.
Longie is president of Spirit Lake Consulting.