UND Hockey Nickname
The University of North Dakota, like most universities, has a mascot; ours just happens to be contriversal.
UND is the Fighting Sioux. This has come under fire in recent years, with some people wanting to change it (with charges that it's racist), and others wanting to keep it (because it's part of the UND tradition).
For those of you unfamiliar, here's a quick timeline (for a longer timeline, here's a biased one in favor of removing the name:
In 1930, UND became the "Fighting Sioux". For the next 70 years, there is contention over this nickname. In 1990, more and more groups formed to get rid of the Sioux nickname. In 2000, it looked like we were going to change the name.
Then in 2001, Ralph Englestad gave 100 million dollars for a new hockey rink, with the condition that we had to keep the nickname. To make sure that the nickname "sticks", many logos were put into the arena, including being stamped right into the bricks of the building.
Now, the NCAA has issued that they will not allowUND (and three other institutions with Native nicknames) to host play-off games or use uniforms with the names or logo until the name is changed, citing the nickname as "hostile and abusive". UND has lost its final appeal with the NCAA, and now it has to go to the federal courts (right now, Sioux diehards are pleading either antitrust (since NCAA is a virtual monopoly), or discrimination, since other nicknames are allowed like the Fighting Irish). For UND alumns and students, there is a forumfor talking about it.
I've got to say, I didn't really have an opinnion about this. As far as I was concerned, arguing about this was missing the larger issue: namely, the fact that sports take up HUGE portions of my tuition unnecessarily. The fact that the state and community was racist, and specifically racist towards Natives, was a such a "duh" thing that I didn't think anybody disputed it. I figured they were going to spend more time and effort over the problems on the reservation with poverty and low health, the names of the cities (Devil's Lake, anyone?) and the budget cuts to the Indian Studies department.
Now that I've researched it, however, I think the logo has to change. I'm not thrilled with it: I dislike that I'm going to have a SERIOUS increase in my tuition. I dislike that the ONLY reason UND became open to having Native students and an Indian Studies program was because they entered into a thieve's bargin: UND uses the name, they get their department.
Some claim that the name isn't racist, that it's an "honor". Well, I'm not sure about that, I'm not Native, I can't know for sure. My first inclination is "I don't care about the Viking's logo, and that's my ancestors", but that's not the same.
A) As a white person, I'm priveleged in that I get to be the norm. People don't look at me and assume I'm a Viking. I don't have a "Viking culture" that I have any need or want to defend.
B) I believe that people should respect other people's wishes. The only thing that analogous is being a women: I don't like being called "baby" or "Miss". I don't like being wolf-whistled at. I've heard people say that I shouldn't be offended, because it's a "compliment", and look at all the women who are complimented by it. But if I'm not complimented, it's NOT a compliment, it's an insult. If the Natives are saying that it is offensive, I'm going to believe them; even if it's only some of the Natives.
This is not morally defensible. "Tradition" isn't enough to justify continued racism. We need to change the nickname, even though it is expensive.