Assumption of Command

16 August 2005

Keep Tribal Names; Ban "Golden Gophers" Instead

The story so far: On August 5, the NCAA decreed that the use of certain American Indian team names and mascots would be banned during post-season tournaments. At least 18 schools had names and/or mascots that were deemed "hostile" and "abusive", including, most famously, the Seminoles of Florida State and the University of Illinois Illini.

Not content to be dictated to by the NCAA, the universities in question have begun to push back. Among the more notable responses is the open letter from Charles E. Kupchella, president of the University of North Dakota (home of the Fighting Sioux):

An Open Letter to the NCAA

Is it the use of the names of tribes that you find hostile and abusive?

Not long ago I took a trip to make a proposal to establish an epidemiological program to support American Indian health throughout the Upper Great Plains. On this trip I left a state called North Dakota. (Dakota is one of the names the indigenous people of this region actually call themselves.) I flew over South Dakota, crossing the Sioux River several times, and finally landed in Sioux City, Iowa, just south of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The airplane in which I traveled that day was called a Cheyenne."
Read the whole thing.