Use in print not key to ‘Fighting Sioux’ debate


There were a lot of things in last week’s issue that caused controversy.

Our phone rang off the hook with comments about the article on homosexuality.

Officials from as high up as the FBI were concerned about how our article on the USA PATRIOT Act would come out.

Radio personalities have been filtering through our office all week regarding our article on KSDJ and X107.1.

But these are controversial topics. The controversy we didn’t expect came from a seemingly benign subhead on the sports page reading, “Fourth-quarter comeback by Fighting Sioux downs Jacks 25-24.”

For those of you that aren’t able to pick it out, the controversial part of that headline is the name of the opposing team. You see, there are lots of people fighting over whether that particular team name is appropriate in an era of increasing attempts at embracing political correctness and eliminating racial stereotyping.

Using the name “Fighting Sioux,” some people say, portrays a race with a rich cultural heritage and history of valuable societal contributions as nothing more than a warrior band whose name is of use only in striking fear into the hearts of opposing collegiate athletes.

The team name, others argue, has its own rich heritage at the University of North Dakota. Its use is a sign of respect, they say, for a Native American group whose courage in battle is unmatched.

And while we at the Collegian may have our opinions about the impropriety of UND’s athletic mascot, we do a disservice to our readers by simply avoiding the use of the team name, as some would ask – and have asked – us to do.

For if a true decision is to be reached on this topic, it will not come in an atmosphere that simply brushes the mascot name away. Rather, it will come in an atmosphere where UND’s decision on its team name is obvious, an atmosphere of reporting that clarifies, rather than obscures, the facts.

So, should your opinion on the “Fighting Sioux” name be strong, let there be controversy. But don’t let the controversy be whether or not the name is used in print; let it be whether the name should exist in the first place.

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