March 03, 2011

Indian and White Guy can't mention Indians

Not a joking matter

‘The Indian and the White Guy’ aren’t coming to Grand Forks

By Chuck Haga
Williams and Ree, the longtime comedy duo who bill themselves as “the Indian and the White Guy” and play off race for some of their material, were negotiating in February to play Grand Forks this month when UND’s Fighting Sioux nickname controversy apparently derailed the talks.

Rob Battle, the comedy team’s agent in Nashville, Tenn., confirmed Thursday that he was negotiating a Grand Forks appearance by the comedy team for mid-March when a representative of the host facility made an unusual request.

“A request came back to the boys asking that they not use the word ‘Indian’ in their performance,” Battle said. “It seemed odd, since that’s part of their deal. After all, they’re the Indian and the White Guy.”
And:Battle said he took the query to Terry Ree, and Ree—who is Sioux—laughed.

“He thought it was very funny,” Battle said. “He said, ‘Yeah, we can do that.’

“They’ve done this for so long, there’d be no problem with filling a show and meeting that condition. We even said we’d be willing to put it in the contract. They’re so flexible, they could make it work.

“I can guarantee you they’d have a thousand ways to skirt the issue and still be dad-gum good.”
Then there's this:“I don’t know any Indian that doesn’t like Fighting Sioux,” Ree said in the undated video. “I don’t know any. I’m a Sioux and I think it’s a hell of a deal. I like to see that Indian head on there.”Comment:  That's funny...I don't think I know any "Sioux" who approve of the "Fighting Sioux." I could point Ree to a few dozen articles by Sioux Indians denouncing the nickname. Maybe Ree is too busy joking around to read.

For more on the subject, see "Fighting Sioux" = "Obnoxious Baboons" and Stereotypical "Sioux Me!" Teazshirt.


dmarks said...

"Sioux" itself is even controversial.

Burt said...

Good point Dmarks!

The Sioux usually identify themselves specifically from the three major nations of Lakota, Dakota or Nakota groups.

I am waiting for tribes to stop identifying themselves by white anthropologist and historians.

We learned your english and culture, its time your learn ours from us and not from Hollywood or wimpy nerds.

I never liked this native comedian. He seems to appeal to the old white racist from the past that value comedy as long as a minority plays the fool.

Anonymous said...

Wow, so they're Not Using The Z Word (FTR, the Z is pronounced "zed".) now.

dmarks said...

Thanks, Burt. I went nuts researching Sioux related sub-group names for a book project of mine, which is actually how I happened upon this blog. I ended up using very little of it in the end.

I have some acceptance of Sioux as long as some Sioux nations/etc still use this in their official names, such as the "Rosebud Sioux Tribe".

As for others tribes stopping "identifying themselves by white anthropologist and historians.", I can look at the three "Three Fires" reservations/tribes near where I am.

One uses the "white historian" Ottawa and Chippewa in its name. Another uses Ottawa as its name.

The third, however uses the more correct Odawa in its official name.

Rob said...

For more on the subject, see:

Williams and Ree to perform in Grand Forks after all

Williams and Ree will perform two shows at the Empire Arts Center in Grand Forks on March 15, according to a press release sent out Friday morning.

The press release said that the Empire Arts Center has no plans to put any restrictions on the comedy team. A Williams and Ree official told the Herald on Thursday that the duo was asked by someone involved in talks about a potential Alerus Center show if they would refrain from using the word "Indian" in their act.

"The Empire is always open to hosting a wide variety of shows and events for all types of audiences," Cathy Foy, the Empire's executive director, wrote in a prepared statement that was included in the press release. "We see Williams & Ree as a great opportunity to bring a fun and well-known act to our community and look forward to it being a great event."