Sometimes it’s hard to tell them apart. Maybe the North one is the good one?
The University of North Dakota sports teams used to be called the Fighting Sioux, but in a remarkable fit of cultural sensitivity, the state voted to change the name.
State residents voted overwhelmingly in 2012 to dump UND’s “Fighting Sioux” nickname, which had been in place since the 1930s. The NCAA considered it hostile and abusive, and it failed to get the endorsement of one of the state’s two namesake tribes. The state Legislature put a moratorium on replacing the nickname until this year.
The decision wasn’t entirely altruistic — the NCAA had told them the school would have to automatically forfeit a number of games if they didn’t fix it. But still, good on ’em — it’s progress. At least they’re one up on a certain professional sports team on the East coast which will go unnamed here, because the owner seems to be positively reveling in his racism.
They’re now looking for new names, and have asked the public to make suggestions. I quite like “Tundra Wookies”, if they can get it past George Lucas. Unfortunately, the bad Dakota has emerged in this process.
Here’s the complete list of rejected submissions (pdf). Some of them are harmless, and apparently the review committee just didn’t like them; but others are thick with frothing, rabid racism and sexism. Lots are full of angry obscenities, and some are subtler — naming the team after George Custer is a bit off, for example. There are some North Dakotans who plainly hate Indians, and the idea of being respectful of the people who were there first.
So, by default, South Dakota must be the good one?
Not so fast. There’s a vocal minority there that is pretty damned ugly, as a group of kids discovered.
On Jan. 24 of this year, 57 elementary and middle school students from American Horse School on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota traveled more than 100 miles to Rapid City, S.D., to watch a minor-league hockey game at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. You can imagine the excitement these students felt when they learned they would attend the big game in celebration of their academic success and outstanding school attendance. Though only a sports match, this night would signify months of hard work and commitment in the classroom and motivate each student to continue to reach his or her full potential.
Hardworking Indian kids get a reward of a field trip to a hockey game. That sounds like a positive for South Dakota. Except, unfortunately, for the existence of drunk white men in the VIP suite above them.
Justin Poor Bear, one of the parents who chaperoned the group of kids from the American Horse School in Allen, South Dakota, described the ugly incident on Facebook:
“There were 15 or more (people) inside of the suite, most of them men. [T]hey were getting drunk and around the 3rd Quarter they (started) talking crap to our kids and throwing down beer on some of them including our staff and students… (They were) telling our students to back to the rez.”
“Rez” refers to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, which encompasses Allen, where the kids and the chaperones returned to after choosing to leave the game early to protect the group of third through eighth graders from further abuse. Poor Bear said he confronted the men before the group left, but declined to fight when given the option.
It’s not just Baltimore, or Ferguson. It’s not just black people. Racism is everywhere.
Every Dakota has a toxic bit of bad in it, and so does Minnesota and Wisconsin and Iowa and every state.