September 11, 2008

Bison worse than "Fighting Sioux"?

‘Bison’ mascot more offensive?Despite “all the stories, all the talk and all the controversy over UND’s ‘Fighting Sioux’ moniker, as an Indian … I find much more offense in NDSU’s ‘Bison’ mascot,” Joe Abbot wrote in a letter published in the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.

“The buffalo was sacred to my people,” he wrote. “It was our food, our shelter, our religion and it was life itself. How dare a white man’s university take our deity and make it a sports team mascot?

“NDSU should change its mascot name out of respect to an animal the Great Spirit gave to my people. He is not a sports mascot; he is not a marketing gimmick to make wealthy people richer. The buffalo is above today’s corrupt commercial world. He is not an asset to be exploited; he is an icon to be cherished and respected.”
And:The letter ran in the Forum’s sports pages Monday. An editor said he called the telephone number provided by the writer to verify the letter’s authenticity, which is standard letters policy, and a man who identified himself as Joe Abbot confirmed that he wrote the letter. But the original copy of the letter—with the phone number—then was discarded.

Leigh Jeanotte, director of American Indian Student Services at UND and a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, agreed that the buffalo, or American bison, “is important to all Plains Indian tribes,” including the Sioux, or Lakota. But the use of a people as a sports mascot is worse, he said.

“It’s just my opinion, but I think that’s much more insensitive,” he said.
Comment:  As far as I know, Plains Indians didn't consider the bison a "deity." And no, animals don't need protection from being exploited as mascots. Indians have feelings about being used; animals don't.

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