'Bison' mascot more offensive?

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'Bison' mascot more offensive?

Postby project-pat » Wed Sep 10, 2008 12:48 am

From Lame Deer, Mont., on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, comes another complaint about a sports nickname and logo perceived by some as insensitive.

No, this one isn’t about UND.

Despite “all the stories, all the talk and all the controversy over UND’s ‘Fighting Sioux’ moniker, as an Indian … I find much more offense in NDSU’s ‘Bison’ mascot,” Joe Abbot wrote in a letter published in the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.

“The buffalo was sacred to my people,” he wrote. “It was our food, our shelter, our religion and it was life itself. How dare a white man’s university take our deity and make it a sports team mascot?

“NDSU should change its mascot name out of respect to an animal the Great Spirit gave to my people. He is not a sports mascot; he is not a marketing gimmick to make wealthy people richer. The buffalo is above today’s corrupt commercial world. He is not an asset to be exploited; he is an icon to be cherished and respected.”

Is the letter legitimate, or is it a prank — a diversionary tactic, perhaps, offered up by a defender of the Sioux logo, someone weary of the long-simmering debate over the nickname’s propriety and future?

The Herald tried without success to contact the letter writer. There is no Joe Abbot in Lame Deer area telephone listings, and people at several local and tribal offices in the town of just over 2,000 people said they were not familiar with the name.

“I don’t recall that last name or that individual,” said Wallace Bearchum, director of tribal services for the Northern Cheyenne. The name does not appear on official tribal membership rolls.

Important to all tribes

The letter ran in the Forum’s sports pages Monday. An editor said he called the telephone number provided by the writer to verify the letter’s authenticity, which is standard letters policy, and a man who identified himself as Joe Abbot confirmed that he wrote the letter. But the original copy of the letter — with the phone number — then was discarded.

Leigh Jeanotte, director of American Indian Student Services at UND and a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, agreed that the buffalo, or American bison, “is important to all Plains Indian tribes,” including the Sioux, or Lakota. But the use of a people as a sports mascot is worse, he said.

“It’s just my opinion, but I think that’s much more insensitive,” he said.

B.J. Rainbow, president of the UND Indian Student Association, agreed. He has ties to Turtle Mountain and to the Lakota tribes at Standing Rock and Spirit Lake — the two namesake Sioux tribes from which UND must win authorization for continued use of the name, under terms of a legal settlement with the NCAA.

And if one objected to the use of “Bison” as sports mascot, Rainbow said, “you could say the same thing about ‘Eagles’ or any other animal. In our culture, all animals had a spirit and a purpose.”

Birgit Hans, chairman of UND’s Indian Studies Department, said that she isn’t surprised by the letter’s sentiment.

“He comes from a culture that’s very connected to the buffalo,” she said. “And I suspect it probably bothers some Lakota people, too. The Lakota have some very sacred stories connected to the buffalo.”

A rare complaint

Gene Taylor, athletic director at NDSU, said Tuesday that he saw the letter but wasn’t sure whether the writer was serious.

“It’s rare” that anyone expresses such a sentiment about the Bison nickname, Taylor said, “and it’s said jokingly most of the time. We have a lot of Native American students on our campus, and I’ve never heard anything like this” from them.

“I’d be shocked” if the letter sparked any broader discussion, he said.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? Everywhere in the world, someone is going to be upset about something. There's no one way to please every single person on this planet. Cut your losses and deal with it!
I'm just a soul who's intentions are good..oh lord..please don't let me be missunderstood! What's understood ain't gotta be explained..but you don't understand me so let me explain..
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Re: 'Bison' mascot more offensive?

Postby SDHoops » Wed Sep 10, 2008 3:06 am

Yeah okay, your the one who has a big ol' problem with this letter. It's just one person, not the whole Native American culture. Put your big boy undies on and get on with your life.
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Re: 'Bison' mascot more offensive?

Postby baseball18 » Thu Sep 11, 2008 11:47 pm

this letter had to be a joke
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