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Fighting Sioux: Hostility and abuse is there in black & white

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  • Robert V. Schmidt
    http://www.grandforks.com/mld/grandforks/news/opinion/12828938.htm Posted on Thu, Oct. 06, 2005 IN THE MAIL : Backtalk backlash The hostility and abuse were
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 7, 2005
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      http://www.grandforks.com/mld/grandforks/news/opinion/12828938.htm

      Posted on Thu, Oct. 06, 2005

      IN THE MAIL : 'Backtalk' backlash

      The hostility and abuse were there in black & white

      GRAND FORKS - Let's be clear: the NCAA does not think the word "Sioux," in
      and of itself, is "hostile and abusive." Their concern, and the concern of
      those who would like to see the nickname changed, is that the use of the
      nickname has created a hostile and abusive environment.

      Any doubts that the environment in Grand Forks is hostile and abusive to
      Native Americans has been washed away by some of the disgusting comments
      made in the Herald's Backtalk section Sept. 30.

      In their comments, several of my fellow citizens suggested that UND quit
      programs that are targeted to Native Americans. Is this supposed to be
      payback because Native people don't want an image of their ancestors walked
      on by everyone who goes to a hockey game? Taking away educational programs
      to get retribution sounds hostile to me.

      And no one can deny that this is meant as anything other than vindictive
      when one writer wants to "give them a reason to cry."

      One neighbor made the not-subtly racist statement that "Indians understand
      one thing: money." Native Americans have long understood that the reason
      the logo has persisted despite their objections also is money. Hurling
      racial epithets at them, though, sounds abusive to me.

      One denizen equated Native Americans with dogs, saying that the Huskies
      mascot might offend pets. How "respectful" would you find it to be put in
      the same category as a domesticated work animal that gets whipped while
      pulling a sled? Most people would find that a hostile and abusive thing to
      say. Think not? Try comparing your spouse or a friend to a dog.

      Most supporters of the logo understand, despite one writer's notion that
      "there are more important things going on in the world," that symbols and
      traditions are important. That is why so many people are so upset by the
      chance that the logo will be changed.

      Please understand, though, that logo opponents understand that symbols are
      important, too. That is why Native Americans want to guard and preserve the
      symbols that publicly represent them and their culture in a manner that
      they, not European Americans, believe is respectful.

      They are not trying to take something away from the white community; they
      are keeping it sacrosanct for their own community.

      I am disappointed by the hurtful - yes, even hostile and abusive - comments
      that my neighbors made in Backtalk. It is positive proof that we have a lot
      of work to do to make this an environment that lives up to the "respect"
      that is so often claimed.

      Marcus Weaver-Hightower
      Weaver-Hightower is an instructor in educational foundations and research
      at UND.

      Exhibit A in case of UND vs. NCAA

      MINNEAPOLIS - I imagine NCAA lawyers will consider as evidence of
      "hostility and abuse" the recent flood of nasty Backtalk remarks on the UND
      logo/nickname issue, masked by the cowardice of anonymity.

      James McKenzie

      McKenzie is a retired professor of English at UND.
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