By Tu-Uyen Tran
In the context of the ongoing debate over the University of North Dakota’s Fighting Sioux nickname, which some believe is racist, any Indian caricature becomes a loaded image.
“I don’t think the image represents the University of North Dakota the way we would like to be represented,” UND spokesman Peter Johnson said, “but I also think it’s impossible to control the behavior of opposing teams.”
At Texas Tech, Assistant Athletic Director Chris Cook said repeatedly that the university didn’t have any ill intentions. “Regardless of who we’ve played, we’ve always been chasing an opponent,” he said of the image. “It was another game, another opponent and we’re just chasing another opponent. I know there was no malicious intent there.”
UND's logo shows only an Indian man's head. Where did Texas Tech get the idea that "Fighting Sioux" represents a Plains warrior from a century and a half ago? Why not a fighting Sioux Indian in high-tech military armor or a high-priced lawyer's suit?
Because "fighting" means fighting like a brute, a thug, a killer. It means being ruthless, vicious, deadly. It refers to the "savage" part of "noble savage," not the "noble" part.
UND spokesman Peter Johnson said he thinks "it's impossible to control the behavior of opposing teams." That's why you control what's within your control, bright boy. If you eliminate your Indian mascot, opposing teams won't depict themselves hunting half-naked savages like varmints.
Assistant athletic director Chris Cook's comments are equally lame. His covers show every Texas Tech opponent being hunted and shot--whether it's a longhorn or an Indian. So far this practice hasn't offended a single non-human species. Who would've guessed that an image of attempted murder would upset people who have been the victims of attempted murder?
Naturally this reminds me of the world's greatest mascot quote:
"Here's what people think of you, the so-called Fighting Sioux. You're running like a scared chicken from the bigger, tougher white men. Are you feeling the 'honor' and 'respect' yet?"
For more on the subject, see Fighting the Fighting Sioux and Team Names and Mascots.
Below: "Run, cowardly little Indian, run. And then we'll honor you at half-time. We respect you, really...honest Injun!"