Erich Longie: No, the Sioux were not silenced

Erich Longie

FORT TOTTEN, N.D. -- I was alerted that my name appeared in a video, "The Sioux were silenced," which is displayed on a Facebook page by the same name and was featured in the Herald story, "Sioux name advocates still fighting" (April 17, Page A1).

The narrator of the video claims my writings were harassment by the media. Expressing my opinion is not harassment and does not reflect the views of the newspaper.

And in my view, the video and the campaign itself are a blatant misrepresentation of the Fighting Sioux controversy, a misrepresentation that relies on the presumed ignorance of the general public.

Let's start with the name: "The Sioux were silenced." It insinuates that the videographers speak for all Sioux -- which is ridiculous; no one speaks for all Sioux.

If they were really concerned about Sioux being heard, then they would want the Oceti Sakowin -- the Seven Council Fires of the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota Nations to be heard, not just Standing Rock and Spirit Lake. All of the others have resolutions against the Fighting Sioux logo.

Furthermore, this is one Sioux who will never be silent. I don't care who or what they represent or much money they have, my silence cannot be suppressed or bought.

Neither were the Spirit Lakers who stood strongly beside me silenced. We refused to accept the single most shameful act in our tribal government's history: the official support of a racist nickname and mascot.

Not one of those tribal members who supported the name is on the current Tribal Council. And, we Spirit Lakers against the name ended up winning when it counted most, which was during the statewide referendum on the name. In Benson County, which Spirit Lake is located in, those of us against the nickname outvoted nickname supporters, 766-428.

We make up the majority of the population in Benson County, so if there were predominantly Fighting Sioux supporters living in Spirit Lake, they easily should have outvoted those who were against the name.

The same can be said about Sioux County, where Standing Rock is located. The statewide referendum vote was 184-159 against the name.

There is a quote in the Herald story that reads, "We believe there was an agenda by certain leaders in the state to rid UND of the Fighting Sioux name and make sure the Sioux people receive the blame."

The Fighting Sioux supporters can call it "blame," just like our ancestors were "blamed" for Custer's "massacre" when it really was a great victory. We modern day Dakota accept the "blame" for the retirement of the Fighting Sioux nickname and mascot. However, we choose to call it a great victory, similar to our ancestors' victory at the Greasy Grass 150 years ago. Eighty years of sanctioned racism came to an end with the most recent victory.

Many of us Sioux wrote letters to the NCAA, asking it loudly and clearly to stand firm in its banishment of the name -- and the organization heard us. We were not silent.

The NCAA's leaders did not bow down to North Dakota officials, who made a special trip to see them. In addition, the Standing Rock Council's several official tribal resolutions against the Fighting Sioux nickname were heard as far away as Indiana, where the headquarters of the NCAA is located. The council members were not silent.

The only thing this continued obsession with wanting to be a white man's mascot accomplishes is to stoke the fires of racial tension between whites and American Indians. I'd love to travel around North Dakota without having to debate the issue with non-Indians and have them get angry at me when I tear to shreds their reasoning that we are being honored.

Plus, it brings shame on us proud and freedom-loving Sioux when other tribes ridicule us for those who continue to fight for the name.

It's time to move on from the days when Indians were second-class citizens and were subjected to all kinds of indignities, one of the most shameful being portrayed as a logo for some wisicu's (white man's) team.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dr. Erich Longie published on April 18, 2015 10:35 PM.

American Indian Education and Its Effect on Indian Culture was the previous entry in this blog.

Roger Duane Alberts "Hudge" dob- 711/1947 date of casualty- 2/5/1968, KIA Fort Totten, North Dakota - by Guest Author Tyra Stiffarm is the next entry in this blog.

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