Overheard on CNN.com: Native American team mascots prove divisive
Jean-Philippe Lamoureux of the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux tends goal during a game in Denver in 2008.
February 9th, 2012
06:50 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Native American team mascots prove divisive

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

There's a bit of controversy going on between the NCAA and the University of North Dakota over the school's mascot, the Fighting Sioux. Readers had strong responses to CNN's story.

School will continue using Fighting Sioux nickname

Many of our commenters were supportive of the name, citing the Fighting Irish as an example of another use of cultural stereotype.

bronson2010: "This is ridiculous. The political correctness that has overtaken this country astounds me. What about the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish? Is that offensive? Perhaps to the Irish. I'm Irish and I support North Dakota with my heart and soul, even though when you think about it, this may be considered offensive since the Irish were stereotypically known for getting drunk and fighting. Time to grow a skin people. Or did I offend you?"

This former student says the name is OK. Several commenters said the use of the name Fighting Sioux is a compliment to the Native Americans in the area.

PhiDelt: "As a former student of the University of North Dakota, I am happy they are fighting to keep this name. It is a long and storied tradition at UND, and it does honor the Sioux of that area."

A few commenters said the word "Sioux" is not an actual name for the tribe.

N8iveThought: "What people don't understand is Sioux is not a Lakota, Nakota, or Dakota word. It is French for enemy/snake. It's insulting because it's not a name we call ourselves. I'm Oglala Lakota not Oglala Sioux. There is a difference there and we natives are the only ones who know it. It's like calling every white person in the United States French or jew or whatever may have it. Also there are many tribes that were called Sioux. There are seven tribes in South Dakota alone that have been label Sioux. Which in turn are really not. We have the Cheyenne River, which consists of four bands (Itazico, O'ohenunpa, Minnecojou, and Si hasapa), Oglala, Sicungu, Yankton, Lower Brule, Sisseton Wahpeton, etc. Not to mention the tribes in Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana. So I think they'd have to get permission from all tribes to actually use the insulting name in question."

Some also mentioned the Minnesota Vikings.

PaxLoki: "Some of my ancestors were Norsemen. Have been a fan of the Minnesota Vikings for over 40 years. It has been a very bad year, however I will stick with them."

One commenter suggested there might be some grievances involved.

JackK1: "This was their land until they got pwned (owned) by the Europeans. They see all the wealth of the land and under the land as rightfully theirs, and they won't be happy until everyone else goes back to where they came from."

Some said Native American name usage depends.

stateStudent51: "The Sioux were not respected for their physical prowess and valor in combat and were fighting against the citizens who embraced that name. Also they said NO to letting them use it. The Saginaw Chippewa Tribe has a great relationship with their citizens and Central Michigan University, so they said YES. And sorry for the metaphor, hate using the most notable genocide in history to make the point that it wouldn't be appreciated by a culture to have those who disrespect them use their name for their own benefit and make money off of it."

yruymihunose: "I do not see this name as offensive but when will Washington Redskins change their name? Do you think they would have changed it by now had it been the Washington Darkies or Whities? I am part Cherokee and I see no issue using braves, warriors, etc. Perception can be a bear. Hey, that would be a good name ... Fighting Perception."

This conversation was a debate over the use of the word "Indian."

GiveUsFree69: This is just plain wrong ... have some respect for the Indians."

hingedlwnb: "The real Indians live in places like Mumbai and Dehli and places like that. Native Americans were incorrectly identified as 'Indians' because Columbus thought he reached India when he made landfall."

Some mentioned the use of Native American names in Illinois.

AndyDufrense: "Just like every other team with Indian related names, most were used to honor Native American warriors. a good example is the Chicago Blackhawks. While also having the most beautiful logo in all of sports, (the team) chose the name to honor Chief Black Hawk, a prominent figure in illinois history."

Some wondered if it is all about money.

cesarchavez: "Just like Americans, we don't understand something so it must not make sense and it must be ridiculed. Personally, I don't understand why the Sioux would have a problem with 'Fighting Sioux' either, but you know what, it's their prerogative. Who are we to say what they should and shouldn't have a right to protest? Is anyone even talking about the fact that UND doesn't share a dime of what they make on merchandising with the tribe? I guess it's OK to make money off their name but refuse to share the proceeds with them. And if Irish people have a problem with the 'Fighting Irish,' then let them speak up. Otherwise, it's silly to compare the two. The same goes for any of the other ridiculous examples some people have used on this blog."

WallySobchak: "I think that's the best explanation I've heard so far. But if the Sioux are offended until UND throws money at them, then they weren't really offended in the first place."

snarkattack: "Wally, that's how patent law works, too. 'If you're so upset that I used your idea, I'll throw money at you until you're not upset.' "

Several commenters spoke in support of the name Fighting Sioux.

movieguy1963: "I am having trouble understanding how this is demeaning to the Sioux. They are the Fighting Sioux with the same logo as the Chicago Blackhawks. Do you think the fans and ticketholders at UND will suddenly throw away their jerseys and memories? My father was a player on the 1959 NCAA Championship Hockey Team. He is is now 76 years old and he still wears his championship ring every day. I had the honor of being with him at a sold out ceremony for the 1959 team and the standing ovation for my dad and all his teammates was incredible! Whatever the outcome of this inane debate, my dad, his teammates and all the players who have worn the uniform will be Fighting Sioux!"

Some said we've gone too far.

1rossd: "Good for the University of North Dakota!! I'm tired of people wanting others to change something because they find it offensive. I'll bet if no one had Indian mascots, then people would be (complaining) that no one is honoring the Indian nation and they would find that offensive."

That being said, the Atlanta Braves took a few hits.

puresmokey: "I agree that too many people have become too thin-skinned, and ridiculously politically 'correct.' But in the case of Atalanta Braves fans and that moronic and offensive tomahawk chop, flush that nonsense down the toilet, please."

Ule Notknow: "Jealousy does not become you. You're an Astros fan, right?"

puresmokey: "Actually I am a Braves fan, and that chant is an embarrassment. Or it should be. I don't expect you to understand that, Ule Notknow."

Some suggested alternative mascots.

ShaneB: "Change it to the Fighting Physicists. Logo is horn-rimmed glasses. Its not like the mascot matters a whole lot, people will be behind the kids anyway."

Check out these mascot names.

bloodawg: "For the record the best mascots are the fighting banana slugs of UC Santa Cruz."

norcalmojo: "And as soon as basket weaving is sanctioned as a sport, they'll get to use it."

bloodawg: "Nothing says humiliation like getting beaten by a banana slug."

Or, what about these?

henbeatsfox: "Get rid of all controversial mascots in college and pro sports. I am ready for the NFL to give us some new names like the San Francisco Vegans or the Washington Wealth Redistributors."

Some found the lighter side.

jbdpsu82: "I almost forgot the Fighting Artichoke from Scottsdale Community College and the Fighting Okra from Delta State University. Vegans unite to stop this injustice!"

Now it's your turn. Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Note: Comments have been turned off overnight, and will be brought back in the morning.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: Native Americans • North Dakota • Overheard on CNN.com • Sports • U.S.
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. banasy ©

    I'm sorry, was that insensetive?

    February 9, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. BOMBO ©

    Well I'm Irish and I find the name "Fighting Irish" offensive. It perpetuates an unfair stereotype of the Irish people. I'm going to get some buddies together, go to a pub, have some beers, and when we do, watch out Notre Dame because we're bringing clubs and knives and we'll show you a thing or two.

    February 9, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Portland tony

    The comments of N8ivethought above tell the truth. Read his thoughts on the subject. Then Google Indian tribes names. He's right on!

    February 9, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOMBO ©

      You learn something new everyday. I was about to post something about how the Edmonton Eskimos CFL team name is derogatory, because Eskimo is a slang name for Inuit, and means "raw meat eater." But I thought I'd better look it up first, to make sure I had the details right. I didn't want to look like an idiot. Well, it turns out the whole thing is an urban myth. Eskimo is in fact a perfectly acceptable word for the whole group of northern native tribes, including Inuit and others.

      I've got to make a habit of doing this "researching" thing before I post.

      February 9, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • nsaidi

      Hooray for research! Ha ha, thanks for posting. Interesting comments from all thus far.

      February 9, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. nsaidi

    People are impersonating others, so I have been pulling some of the posts but leaving the legitimate comments.

    February 9, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • nsaidi

      My suggestion would be to stop talking about deletions, which actually reduces the chance of your comments being deleted. If something is pulled in error, we can always put it back. No worries, OK? nicole.saidi@turner.com if you need it.

      February 9, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • TORI ©

      I will be emailing you Nicole. Thank you, Tori L

      February 9, 2012 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • nsaidi

      Awesome. 🙂

      February 9, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. banasy©

    With all the different nationalities my children and grandchild are, I call them "The Continental Kids".
    Up to you all to figure out which continent...

    February 9, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Pete/Ark

    maybe every socio/ethnic/politico/etc group should copyright thier pet name then charge for its use...American business opportunity at its best!

    February 9, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. leeintulsa

    they are looking into it. when you blog on your computer is your name black and not blue?

    February 9, 2012 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Pete/Ark

    sorry...thought this was a CNN blog...wasn't looking for a dating site...bye

    February 9, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. TORI ©

    Yes on my computer it is black and when I use my droid it's blue.

    February 9, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. leeintulsa

    maybe, tell nsaidi

    February 9, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. TORI ©

    @leeintulsa, are you on yahoo by any chance.?

    February 9, 2012 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa


      February 9, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • TORI ©

      @leeintulsa-you may have email. Yes or No?

      February 9, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Amy

    Let me attempt genocide on a group of people, then use them as a mascot. Yeah, I've already dumped all interest in watching any sports or attending any universities that can't seem to grasp why it's a bad idea to use stereotypes of minority groups for mascots.

    February 9, 2012 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jj

    The Washington wealth redistributors! Lmao!

    February 9, 2012 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. nsaidi

    The conversation has been pretty active today. Thanks everyone. Just so you know, I'm closing down comments on this post at 12:30 a.m. ET because we won't be able to keep as good of an eye on it overnight. Please get your thoughts in before then, if you're working on anything, and we'll turn the comments back on tomorrow.

    February 10, 2012 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
  15. nsaidi

    Hi everyone, shutting down for the night, but we'll be back in the morning. See you, and thanks for participating!

    February 10, 2012 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |