May 14, 2014 - “Siouxper Drunk” T-Shirts Helped Fighting Sioux Nickname Opponents, By Dr. Erich Longie
As far as racism goes, it doesn’t get much uglier than the “Siouxper drunk” T-shirts incident that happened at UND over the weekend. As proof of the extreme racist nature of the incident, conservative, talk show hosts, bloggers, and other non-Indians are coming forward to vigorously and stridently defend this shameful and disgusting incident. In typical fashion, they will try to drown out voices who disagree with them.
However, I’m the type of guy who looks for the silver lining in every cloud. And, believe it or not, there is a silver lining in the “Siouxper drunk” T-shirts controversy at UND. At least there is one for us Indians who advocated to get rid of a racist nickname. Here’s why.
This stupidity, which is now known as the “Siouxper drunk” T-shirts controversy at UND, couldn’t have come at a better time for us Indians who fought so hard to get rid of the nickname.
We fought many hard battles against supporters of the nickname, some of which I actually enjoyed. The battles I didn’t enjoy were those battles against the few tribal members and other Indians who always insisted there wasn’t any racism at UND or in ND. Somehow they were able to ignore the long history of documented racism at UND and in ND in their support of the racist nickname and logo.
Now with pictures all over the social media showing Caucasians wearing “Siouxper drunk” T-shirts to add to the long history of racism, their claim of no racism at UND or in ND will have to be said tongue-in-cheek.
However, that is not the silver lining I am referring to. What I am referring to is something much more sinister than us Indians disagreeing over the FS nickname, or, some ignorant Caucasians who appear to get some kind of sadistic joy from making fun of a different race of people. I am referring to is an attempt to reinstate the FS nickname either before, or after, the legislative ban preventing UND from choosing a nickname is lifted Jan. 1, 2015.
Why would I claim that some people would be stupid enough to propose the Fighting Sioux as the University’s nickname again, after the nickname was beaten soundly at the polls? Here’s why. Several months ago, one of the leading proponents of the nickname, Frank Burggraf, contacted me, through one of my relatives who supports the nickname. Frank and I had more than a dozen text conversations before he revealed his true purpose for getting in touch with me. He was really confident that “they” could restore the racist nickname, but he wanted me to help them. Quite simply, he wanted me to switch sides. He promised me a professorship at UND if I switched sides, where I could teach Dakota culture; he offered to take my family to a hockey game. I basically told him that my loyalty to my tribe cannot be bought.
With fewer than eight months remaining until the ban on a nickname for UND is lifted, the “Siouxper drunk” T-shirts controversy at UND will definitely put a dent in anyone’s plans to revive the hated, racist nickname and logo. I’m sure the incident convinced NCAA that they made the right decision when they threatened to exclude UND from any tournament play should they have decided to keep the racist name. And, it made us anti-logo Indians stronger. Indians who never cared about the Fighting Sioux controversy are now speaking up against it. Indians from other tribes and across the nation are rallying to our side.
On a different note, I am puzzled by UND President Kelley’s advice for people who are involved in the controversy to seek counseling. It has been my experience that no racist has ever been helped through counseling. Racism appears to be a terminal affliction and the only times I have seen or heard of it being cured was when people were on their death bed preparing to meet their Maker.
In closing, now you understand why at the beginning of this letter I said, “The stupidity, which is now known as the ‘Siouxper drunk’ T-shirts controversy at UND, couldn’t have come at a better time for us Indians who fought so hard to get rid of the nickname.”