April 22, 2009

Let every Sioux vote on nickname

Tom Disselhorst makes some good points about UND's deal with the NCAA over the "Fighting Sioux" nickname:

Nickname settlement was imposed on tribes[T]he real problem is that the two tribal nations—Spirit Lake and Standing Rock—that are the subject of the “settlement” between UND and the NCAA never agreed to it. They were not parties to the lawsuit and were not part of the settlement discussions.

The “settlement” was imposed on them—and by extension, on at least 15 other Dakota and Lakota tribal nations that expressed opposition to the nickname and logo before the settlement.

If the argument is made that the tribal nations can support the logo through a “referendum,” what right does the university or Board of Higher Education have to call for such an action? These are internal matters for the tribal nations to consider and are independent of any artificial time line imposed by the NCAA and UND.

Furthermore, what permanence does such a referendum have? The process can be reversed simply. And what about all of the tribes not mentioned in the “settlement” that are opposed to the logo and nickname?
Comment:  In the FSU Seminole case, I argued that Florida's Seminole tribes shouldn't be the only ones to decide whether FSU could use the Seminole name. Oklahoma's Seminole tribe had a right to the name too.

This applies to the two Sioux tribes in the UND case. Why should they be the only tribes who get a say in the use of the word "Sioux"? Why not the 15 or more other Lakota and Dakota tribes?

Ideally, the tribes' say would be proportional to the nickname's effect on them. An ideal voting system might go like this: Every Sioux person in North Dakota would get one vote. Every Sioux person in another state or province would get a large fraction of a vote--perhaps 80% of one. And every other Native person would get a small fraction of a vote--perhaps 20% of one.

The crybabies who opposed the NCAA's decision to banish Indian mascots whined, "Let the Indians decide." What they meant was, "Let the small minority of Indians who have already approved the mascots decide." If they were sincere, I countered, they'd put the question to a vote of every Indian whom the stereotype affects. If they respected Native opinions--which they clearly don't--I thought they'd agree.

Needless to say, no one took me up on this suggestion. No one was willing to put their beloved mascot to a vote of every Indian. In the Seminoles' case, their position amounted to: "Let the casino Indians who need public support for their gaming operations decide, not all Indians."

In other words, most mascot supporters are hypocrites. But I suspect you already knew that. <g>

Below:  "I'm a savage spearchucker, but my stereotypes stop at the Florida border."


Anonymous said...

why should this issue even be put to a vote? would we vote slavery back into existence? this whole process is foolish.

dmarks said...

Are you equating the mascot with slavery?