March 03, 2011

"Fighting Sioux" = "obnoxious baboons"

No such thing as Sioux

Do you know that there isn’t and never was an American Indian tribe named Sioux? That’s a fact.

By Kevin Holten
Now for the sake of discussion, we’ll say that the word “Sioux” means enemy or snake. But in reality, and in the context of the time, the meaning of the word was meant to be much more degrading and the real translation could not be written here.

At the same time they conveniently clumped 12 tribes, the Oglala, Hunkpapa, Brule, Santee, Sans Arcs, Minnwkonjou, Mdewakantonwan, Yankton, Yanktonai, Wahpekute, Sisseton and Wahpeton, each of which has additional subdivisions, into that “Sioux” category, effectively demeaning them all with one, big, easy swipe.

Which is a little like taking all of the Norwegian, German, Swedish, Danish, Ukrainian, Russian, English, Icelandic, French, Finish Irish and Czech homesteaders who settled the upper Great Plains in the late 1800s, with all of their different dialects and customs, and calling them all baboons or something much worse.

And that, you see, is the origin of the concern shown by many Native Americans over the use of the word “Sioux” by the University of North Dakota for its athletic teams. Then, when you add “Fighting” to the word Sioux, you’ve essentially accented the insult. Because then, it’s a little like referring to those settlers that I just mentioned as not only baboons, but...obnoxious baboons; which is a name that one would hardly want to be associated with and in the case of “Fighting Sioux,” a name that is also absolutely, historically inaccurate. Thus, if you ask a Native American if they are a member of the Sioux tribe, the answer has to be “no” simply because there’s no such thing.
Comment:  I think Holten means the Lakota, Dakota, Nakota tribes didn't call themselves "Sioux" originally. These days, many of them have embraced the name for themselves and their tribes.

For more on the subject, see Stereotypical "Sioux Me!" Teazshirt and Students Talk About "Fighting Sioux."


Anonymous said...

Well, the actual Nakota (Assiniboine) weren't even referred to as Sioux. The "N" dialects are farther northwest than the "L" and "D" dialects. Made far worse because one "D" dialect, Yankton, had /d/ constistently recorded as /n/ by anthropologists.

dmarks said...

from the top quote

"Do you know that there isn’t and never was an American Indian tribe named Sioux? That’s a fact."

Fact check:

Rosebud Sioux Tribe