Two years ago I argued on this website that the NFL team in Washington D.C. called themselves “Redskins” out of respect. The argument was simple enough. NFL teams tend to name themselves after predatory animals (Bengal, Lions), superhuman creatures (Titans, Giants), and fierce fighters from the past (Vikings, Buccaneers). Indian names plainly belong in the latter category.
Nowhere do we find teams named, the Losers, the Wimps, the Couch Potatoes, the Obese, the Inferior. There are a bunch of inferior and politically incorrect names that no Liberal needs to worry about someone naming a team. No one would call a team the Dwarfs, or the Midgets, or the Epileptics. I suppose one could claim that it is some kind of discriminatory crime that such people are not even considered as the name of a professional football team. And it is discrimination. Sports teams want names that can be associated with winning over other athletes. They want to be associated with conquest or aggression.
And despite their eventual conquest and consignment to reservations, people still remember the time when the American Indians were a real threat to US citizens and to the plan of the government to extend power throughout the country to the West Coast. We may have out-gunned them and out-numbered them but it took real effort to deal with them. Whatever the rights and wrongs of that situation, whatever the distortions or exaggerations that may have sprung up from the myth of the American West, there was a time when people who spoke of “Redskins” did so with real fear for life and limb.
University of North Dakota backers have selected Fighting Hawks as the school’s new nickname, the school announced Wednesday.
The predatory bird mascot received 57 percent of the vote compared to 43 percent for Roughriders in the two-name runoff. The new nickname replaces Fighting Sioux, which was retired by the state Board of Higher Education in 2012 because the NCAA deemed it “hostile and abusive.”
“I think this name underscores the tremendous competitive spirit of our athletic teams, our student athletes and the entirety of the University of North Dakota, expressing our state spirit and the fact that UND continues to ascend to new heights on a daily basis,” President Robert Kelley said.
It was “hostile and abusive” to think of the Sioux as representing “tremendous competitive spirit”?
The NCAA disputed the Fighting Sioux nickname and forced UND to retire it after the school failed to win approval to keep it from the state’s two tribes. The Spirit Lake Tribe voted to keep the name but the Standing Rock Sioux held no vote on the matter. State residents voted overwhelmingly in early 2012 to dump the nickname and American Indian head logo that was first unveiled in the 1930s and redesigned by a Native American UND alumnus in 1999.
So a reminder of an Indian tribe has been replaced with an animal. I guess that’s progress.