Smoke and Mirrors

We tribal members who attend or attended UND and are against the nickname have very good reasons for wanting the Fighting Sioux nickname to go. Our first hand accounts about the "hostile and abusive" nature of the Fighting Sioux logo cannot be discredited by the pro logo side. Therefore, they ignore addressing our concerns. Instead, they conjure up many other reasons to restore the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo.

On April 18, 2010, the Forum published an editorial titled, UND logo fallout gets silly. It pointed out that the tactics used by pro logo supporters to restore a racist nickname and logo was - well silly. Apparently, this editorial prompted the use of another new strategy by logo supporters, the old "smoke and mirrors" trick, to restore the Fighting Sioux nickname.

For those who are not familiar with the term, here is Wikipedia's definition: Smoke and mirrors is a metaphor for a deceptive, fraudulent or insubstantial explanation or description. The source of the name is based on magicians' illusions, where magicians make objects appear or disappear by extending or retracting mirrors amid a confusing burst of smoke. The expression may have a connotation of virtuosity or cleverness in carrying out such a deception.

After being called "silly" by the Forum, almost every letter writer who wrote to the Herald in support of the nickname had written nothing but positive statements about us Indians. Man! I never read so many positive things about us in my entire life. Why all this sudden outpouring of "generosity"? Because it is a ruse, maybe not a conscious ruse, but a ruse none-the-less. The ruse is a softening up tactic that is manifesting itself in the form of false generosity.

Writing positive things about us is supposed to make all the problems associated with the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo "disappear." Hence, my reference to the old "smoke and mirrors" trick.

Another old ruse often used is this. "It is easier to get forgiven then get permission." This is exactly what Fool Bear, tribal member and a logo supporter, is attempting to do. On a Grand Forks radio station he said, "Trust democracy." According to Fool Bear, "democracy" on the reservation will ensure that "grassroots support" would stay strong in the years to come preventing future council members from dropping the name. He may fool non-Indians, but those of us who live on Indian reservations know how fickle tribal politics can be. Trying to predict tribal politics is like trying to predict the weather. He hopes the Standing Rock tribal council will fall for his ruse.

Frankly, I do trust democracy. It is the pro logo people who I do not trust because they are not speaking for themselves. A young lady from the Standing Rock reservation addressed both the trust issue and the democracy issue in her comment section on the Bismarck Tribune: "I find it very insulting to our tribal governance for their stance on the issue [against the logo] to not be respected. They are elected officials just like the elected officials of the State of the ND and those we send to DC. They are not free to shoot at the hip on what they feel they should vote. They have a constituency they are representing when they vote on council. They are required to attend their community meetings and vote accordingly to what their district decides on for different issues. This issue has already been voted on in these communities. This issue has gone through the democratic process. However, the people who are for the name, and it is definitely not UND, it's a third party who is at work here, a third party who has paid tribal members to push this referendum and to undermine out democratic process here on the reservation. This third party truly has no respect for Tribes or Tribal governments.

The third ruse is the claim that we are all "Fighting Sioux." No. If you are not an enrolled member of one of the many bands that make up the Great Sioux Nation, then you are not a Sioux. This outrageous claim by Fool Bear reveals how frightened pro logo tribal members are of freedom and equality. Instead, they want to be exactly like those who perpetuate a racist logo and nickname. This "fear of freedom" guides them down a prescribed role or path that the REA (Ralph Engelstad Arena) Foundation has laid out for them. This "fear of freedom" also leads them to try to silence tribal members who are against the nickname.

In my opinion, the most accurate poll to determine whether or not the Fighting Sioux logo and mascot is hostile and abusive is one that polls all the American Indians who have attended or currently are attending UND. The wrong people to poll are the Indians who never set one foot on the UND campus or in a UND classroom or the screaming fan that attends hockey games painted up and/or dressed up as an Indian.

I know I can safely say that all tribal council members would like to see younger tribal members get a college degree. In fact, many tribes provide scholarships to their members who attend college. A tribal leader's role is to insure the safety of its tribal members including those who attend UND. Why would tribal leaders jeopardize our children's safety and/or education at UND by sanctioning a racist harmful logo? This is not our way.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dr. Erich Longie published on April 26, 2010 5:08 AM.

Who is to Blame? was the previous entry in this blog.

Ethical Decision-Making for our Tribal Leaders is the next entry in this blog.

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