What I learned about Indians. . .

by Robin David
October 10th, 2001
Courtesy of
Vastlane

Determined to further educate myself about this whole nickname controversy, I set out this week to acquire some information about these curious Indian people. In addition to attending The Northern Plains Conference on American Indian Team Names & Logos, I also went out into the community, spending part of Saturday tailgating at the Alerus and touring the Ralph Englestad Arena. While the conference itself was very informative, I learned a whole lot about Indians from those who don’t see a problem with the Fighting Sioux nickname.

(Before I begin my lessons, I must apologize for my language. I am merely relating the tone of my teachers.) First off, from some T-shirts being sold in a local business, I learned that the Sioux like to fuck buffalo. (I’ve also heard that they also used to perform oral sex on buffalo, but I don’t know if that practice continues.) From some “Sioux fans” driving by the gathering of Native Americans (including veterans, elders, women, and children) who were praying, singing, and speaking at the rally, I learned that the Sioux whoop and holler as they pat their hands over their mouths.

At the tailgating party which preceded the UND-NDSU football game, I learned many more interesting details about these people. First of all, they suck. Second, sometimes they suck shit. Third, according to a guy who joined in with the marching UND pep band, we can fuck the Sioux, and besides that, they are fags. Huh.

A trip to the Englestad Arena taught me more about the Indians. (I guess they like Ralph, because a headline from Saturday’s Herald told me that “American Indians tell Englestad thanks for [the] tribute.") It seems that these Sioux are a conceited and ostentatious people, as thousands of pictures of them (or at least of one guy) are plastered on everything in here. Also, they must really drink a lot, since there are Budweiser and Coors Light signs next to this guy’s face all over the stadium. Even the cup your alcohol comes in has a full color picture of him. What a bunch of drunks! One neat thing about the Sioux, however, is that their name is well suited for word play, such as “Sioux-per dogs” (a hot dog stand) and “Sioux-venirs.” (Not to mention the alliterative potential as illustrated in “Sioux suck” and the rhyming potential shown in “Sioux Crew.”)

This brings me to my next point, which has to do with merchandising. Apparently, even though Indians have deviant sexual habits and they like to drink, people love to spend money on anything that has this guy’s picture on it. You can buy anything from a $1500 leather couch to a golf towel with the Indian head on it, in case you wanted to wipe your sweaty hands on his face. I couldn’t even venture a guess as to how much money local businesses made this weekend by selling items with pictures of Indians on them. Well hey, at least the Indians are good for something.

But not everything with Indians on it sells, it seems. A trip to Barnes and Noble following the arena tour showed the apparel section to be filled with eager consumers, while the Native American studies area was quite barren of people. (I couldn’t even find some of the books by authors who spoke at the conference this week). My conclusion is that while using Indians as adornments is cool, reading about Indians is not. (Incidentally, I’m wondering if any contact with real Indians is undesirable. I don’t think I saw anyone at the Alerus, Englestad, or B&N wearing “Fighting Sioux” on his/her clothes interacting with an actual Sioux. The name and the logo are apparently much more likable that the people themselves. I’ve heard from local residents that Indians whine a lot, anyway—accusing people of being “disrespectful,” “racist,” and whatnot.)

Boy, this weekend was so educational for me . . . I wish some tribal schools had bused their kids in for a field trip. They could probably learn a thing or two from Fighting Sioux fans about what real Sioux pride is all about. And I wonder if they’re aware of all the aspects of their collective identity that I learned about the past few days. Besides, these Indian children should be at those games we’re playing to honor them—they could learn a lot about the proud Fighting Sioux tradition. (Even if most Indian children missed out on this learning opportunity, at least thousands of white children were around to take in all these lessons.)

I realize I may be outthinking my teachers here, which is presumptuous, but I’m starting to wonder why we’d even want to “honor” these people. We don’t seem to like them much. (Or is that just the living ones?)

Grand Forks, you’ve schooled me up good.