Friday, April 9, 2010

The Fighting Flickertails

After a four year court battle a State Supreme court ruling and a board of education decision has retired The Fighting Sioux nickname from the Univ. of North Dakota.This was basically a cave in to the almighty NCAA who were refusing North Dakota any mass sporting events unless they changed the name.The Spirit Lake Sioux were pretty much in favor of the nickname but the Standing Rock Sioux have resisted calls to change the bylaws and allow a vote on it from their group creating a catch 22.I for one am sad to see it go as the name was used in honor.The Flickertails is one of the new names mentioned.Now that the NCAA has won this battle in American History I expect they'll go after Notre Dame next(insert rolling eyes emoticon here)

16 comments:

  1. Don't shed too many tears for the memory of Ralph Engelstad and his wishes to keep the "Fighting Sioux" name. Englestad openly celebrated Hitler's birthday and said by some to be a white supremacist (after a few years he denied any of these allegations but only after a public outcry embarassed him). True, he gave a lot of money to UND and remains beloved by many in that area. But folks here in Minnesota have disowned all memory of him because of his checkered history.

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  2. I've read about Englestad and he was a bigot and more but the Fighting Sioux name is much more than just about his wishes and legacy.It involves a whole state and standing up against the NCAA.On a side note I received my copy by mail today of Jim Harrison's"The English Major" and glancing at it the main character renames all 50 states with Indian Tribe names.There is even an index in back with the states name before and after.

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  3. I hate to get into the middle of a sports discussion, but there has been a big push in Indian country generally to rename all the derogatory Indian place names and team names to eliminate the Braves, the Chiefs, the Fighting Sioux, Squaw Peak, etc.

    These names are viewed as disrespectful at minimum and racist. In the case of sports, mascots are usually some tough, fighting creature -- like a grizzly or a cougar or whatever (unless you go to UC Santa Cruz where the mascot was the banana slug). Representing specific tribes or Indians generally in that same lineup says something about where we place them culturally in this country. It's also where they were placed in natural history museums.

    According to their website, the Fighting Irish were originally represented by dogs. Now they are represented by a leprechaun. I'm actually surprised that the "Irish" part doesn't go back further than that, since the Irish were also considered animalistic and "black" in this country to begin with.

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  4. Irish male immigrants have typically been associated with fairly rough occupations. They also tended to congregate, like members of most other immigrant groups, in specific urban areas and were generally known for their pugnaciousness, especially when having a drop or two; thus the Leprechaun with his dukes up. While that is arguably stereotypical -- there were and are also plenty of Irish priests for instance and maybe even some Irish teetotalers -- the insult, if insult it is, seems rather mild. I also don't imagine the Atlanta Braves will soon be calling themselves the Atlanta Ohitekahs.

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  5. I don't think it's intended as an insult -- I think it's simply meant to capture the stereotype of the tough immigrant street fighter. Or the terrifying (to whites) Indian "brave."

    The Atlanta Braves and the Washington Redskins all build on those stereotypes, alongside the image of the grizzly bears and the bobcats (to draw on local mascots).

    If you're Irish -- as my daughter and part of my family is, and I'm assuming a good portion of the original Catholic attendees of Notre Dame -- you may even like the image of toughness associated with that stereotype. It sort of captures the survival instinct the Irish working class had in a new, hostile land. But just because some people might not be opposed to being stereotyped as mascots in sports, doesn't mean it's appropriate to stereotype all people in sports.

    Interestingly, we don't have Whiteskins or Blackskins teams. I wonder why that is? Maybe we'll see the rise of the fighting Scotch Irish or even the Whities in the South now with the rise of the tea baggers.

    My white Irish and Scandinavian roots aside, you knew I wouldn't let this pass without a comment.....

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  6. I may have mentioned in the past that I am a huge fan of lacrosse. This sport is more popular in certain parts of the East Coast than baseball or softball at this time of year. The Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) are particularly fanatical about the sport and call it baggataway. The various tribes have their own summer leagues with teams nicknames such as Indians, Mohawks, Warriors, and even the Mad Mohawks. But these are their leagues and their choice of names. These are not white created teams who choose to use names which reinforce crtain stereotypical views.

    For many years we had schools in NYS which named their teams Dutchmen or Flying Dutchmen. These references are to the historic Dutch settlements in the state as they were the first Europeans in the area with orange as their national color. The Flying Dutchman was, of course, a poetic figure. Now, these names are also on the way out. Hofstra is now called the Pride, as an example. Syracuse University used to be known as the Orangemen but are now simply the Orange.

    Thus, name changes are taking place all throughout the NCAA. The agency wants these changes but so do many tribes which feel they are insulted by the stereotypes they represent. For example, many Seminoles have tried to force Florida State University to change the team name. But certain tribal elders, who have received much money from certain financial interests, have voted against mandating a name change. I don't know what the story is in Central Michigan where they keep the name "Chippewa". If anyone has details re their name and why it hasn't been changed, please let me know.

    One thing more: some teams such as Minnesota's women's teams used to be known as Lady Gophers. Ditto for Lady Volunteers at Tennessee. The term "lady" is no longer politically correct and has been eradicated from team names without any fanfare or controversy. It proves that we can have names or name changes without offending anyone's sensibilities.

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  7. My white Irish and Scandinavian roots aside, you knew I wouldn't let this pass without a comment.....

    Feel better?

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  8. LOL! Here in Minnesota we have a large Scandinavian population and they love the Vikings image. Perhaps UND should change its name to Vikings or Vandals - that would make them more popular around here.

    ;)

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  9. I know! Exactly the team I was thinking about. My family is from Southern Minnesota and they are/were all big Viking fans.

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  10. Nearby Univ. of Idaho are the Vandals.

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  11. Trippler it's interesting how areas take on the old names.I'd forgotten about the Albany area and Hudson Valley having all those old Dutch place names.One sees some of them on road signs along the NYState Thruway when driving through.I know in the Rochester N.Y. area several high schools had Indian names or the name Indians or Chiefs and all have changed them in the past twenty years.

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  12. As far as I know the native Americans in the Dakotas hate the term Sioux, which I believe was a French term. Oglala, Lakota and the other tribal names are preferred.

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  13. As I recall, all of the signage in South Dakota uses original names, not "Sioux" names. I can't remember if they also use native language -- I'll have to watch when I drive through there this year.

    On the Crow reservation they've changed all the signage on I-90 to English and Crow, which is really cool for people driving through to see. And a good reminder that you are on reservation land.

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  14. Navajos consider themselves Dine (two syllables), not Navajos.

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  15. It is great to see how Native Americans have fought to preserve their languages and cultures both in the USA and Canada. This is also true in Latin America. For example, in Mexico the majority of the tribes still do not speak Spanish and they strive to maintain their ways. Others which had adopted Spanish and now seeking to restore their original languages and old ways - they teach those native languages in the schools and kids are having fun learning them.

    But this is hardly unique to the Americas. In Europe, this practice is being encouraged as minority groups are returning to the use of their old languages and ways. Recently, I watched a cycling contest from the Basque land in Spain online. The announcers initially spoke a few lines in Spanish but reverted to Euskatel (the original Basque language). The operator of the channel was from Luxembourg and transcribed the race's standings in English. In the chat room, a chatter thanked him for using English as he could not understand the Vasko language - and the chatter was from Spain! In the provinces people are learning to use their indigenous languages such as Leones, Mirandes, Valencian, Catala, and the many languages of their forefathers and mothers. I have even seen people discussing on chatlines how they prefer those languaes and use Spanish only if it is abosultely necessary. Very interesting, indeed.

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  16. I have always been interested in the power of naming. I think that's what Harrison may be getting at in his last book that Bo mentioned. The first thing an empire does is change the name of the discovered and the maps in honor of their culture.

    And in the attempt to assimilate (or destroy) Native culture, they sent the kids off to schools where they changed their names, cut their hair off and forbid them to speak their native language.

    You see it in science, too -- the fight to claim something by naming it. That was what the Marsh/Cope battle was ultimately all about: who had "priority" to name a discovery. The early world of paleontology was full of duplicate, triplicate, etc. "species" because they wanted to name their discoveries.

    I took a class in museum history and critiqued a large paleo exhibit. Interestingly, many if not most of the discoveries on display were made by non-professional women, but they were named by and after men because that is still really a male-dominated science. Thanks to my paper they at least added overt recognition to the women who discovered them.

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