I'm a pretty laid-back guy. But there are a few things that make me, for lack of a better term, angry.
He's writing about the tempest in the teapot surrounding the NCAA's address of the "indian nickname" issue. The University of North Dakota, of course, is "The Fighting Sioux". Not, mind you, the "Drunken Redmen", or the "Scalping Fiends" or the "Vicious Redskins". "Fighting Sioux".
This gives a lot of people the vapors, of course - most notably excluding the vast majority of North Dakota's 16,000-odd Native Americans.
But no matter. Nick has a cause to dig up.
Ironically, the column came out the same day as UND president Charles Kupchella's open letter to the NCAA was published. I'll be interspersing Kupchella's comments with Coleman's, indented in italics.
For a minute there, I was hopeful that the University of North Dakota might do the right thing. Not a chance. Even from beyond the grave, Ralphie is pulling the strings."Ralphie". Ralph Engelstad was an inspirational story, a self-made man who gave to the community in ways that Nick Coleman, lifelong urbanite and child of power, can't imagine. Wikipedia tells the story:
Engelstad was known as a self-made man, and one of the very few independent casino owners in Las Vegas, and for philanthopic ventures.Not easy to do for a Red River Valley farm boy. Or anyone who doesn't have (koff koff) family connections.
Casino owner and Nazi memorabilia collector Ralph Engelstad...Whoah, whoah, whoah.
Coleman tosses that in there as if it's relevant to the story - leaving it dangling there to twist the story into caricature in the minds of the uniformed.
And nobody who
glorifies glorified during his late, unlamented radio show the thugs and boyos of the IRA had better squawk about inappropriate imagery.
...was 72 when he died in 2002, a year after the lavish hockey palace in Grand Forks, N.D., that bears his name stamped the cartoon image of a feather-wearing Indian warrior on the Red River Valley.Indian heads?
Engelstad, a native of Thief River Falls, Minn., was a backup goalie at North Dakota in the late 1940s who made a crusade of preserving the school's Fighting Sioux nickname and logo. At his life's end, he tried to ensure that the nickname could never be eradicated by installing a ridiculous profusion of Indian heads in the $104 million Ralph Engelstad Arena, home of the Fighting Sioux hockey team. Ralphie wanted to make it impossible to remove the logo from his tomb, and he may have succeeded.
Why, the nerve!
Let's see what President Kupchella has to say about those damnable heads:
Is it the use of Indian names, images, and/or mascots to which you are opposed? If it is all of the above, which logos, images, and mascots do you indict by your announcement? Is it only certain ones? As I said, a very respected Indian artist designed and created a logo for the University. The logo is not unlike those found on United States coins and North Dakota highway patrol cars and highway signs. So we can’t imagine that the use of this image is “abusive” or “hostile” in any sense of these words.The NCAA has ruled that UND is one of 18 schools whose nicknames are offensive.The NCAA - not to mention the US Geological Survey - have their work cut out for them, according to President Kupchella:
Is it the use of Indian names, images, and/or mascots to which you are opposed? If it is all of the above, which logos, images, and mascots do you indict by your announcement? Is it only certain ones? As I said, a very respected Indian artist designed and created a logo for the University. The logo is not unlike those found on United States coins and North Dakota highway patrol cars and highway signs. So we can’t imagine that the use of this image is “abusive” or “hostile” in any sense of these words.Ah. But in Nick Coleman's world, it's just because North Dakotans are, apparently, a bunch of dumb yahoos who know where their entertainment bread is buttered?
This should not have come as a surprise in Grand Forks, where the battle against the nickname was almost won until Engelstad, the owner of the Imperial Palace Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, decided to erect a monument to himself and keep the Fighting Sioux nickname alive as long as the grass grows and the water flows.Those damn hicks! Taking and taking, and never giving back!
The Indians never got much else they were promised in those poetic terms, but Ralph Engelstad was determined to keep his promise: We puck heads will use your name and your likeness for our enjoyment as long as we want.
Well, except for those among them that are First Nations, according to Kupchella:
We have more than 400 American Indian students here. Who decided that a certain percentage was okay, but our percentage was not? Where is the line between okay and hostile/abusive?Estimates of the number of Indian logos in his arena (the Fighting Sioux logo resembles the Chicago Blackhawks Indian), range from 3,000 to as many as 4,500. They are festooned on the walls and the floors and the ceilings and on the seats at the end of each row in the obscenely plush arena, which features granite floors and closed-circuit TVs in the restrooms and is more luxurious than the home of the Minnesota Wild.Huh?
We have two Sioux tribes based here in North Dakota. One has, in fact, objected to our use of the name, “Sioux,” applied to our sports teams. The other said it was okay, provided that we took steps to ensure that some good comes of it, in educating people and students about the cultural heritage of this region. This mix of opinions is apparently not unlike that faced by our sister institution in Florida.
"Obscenely Plush?" It was built with private money! Engelstad opted to give to the school that he'd attended! It's that serving your community stuff that people like Coleman are always caterwauling about.
University of North Dakota President Charles Kupchella has rebuked the NCAA in a sharply worded letter challenging the characterization of the Fighting Sioux nickname as hostile and abusive.Interesting talk, this "honor", coming from a "man" who inhabits an inherited sinecure, sends obscene emails to his critics, and has never been known to face a single one of his detractors, much less answer a straight question from them. When Nick Coleman speaks of "honor", watch your back.
Maybe higher education in North Dakota is more about hockey than honor.
The NCAA has better things to do - like, perhaps, turn college athletics into something other than an academic joke and a profit center for the gambling industry - than the selective enforcement of vacuous, ill-considered, pietistic political correctness.Posted by Mitch at August 17, 2005 06:01 PM | TrackBack