Is there anything more fun than fighting over the fact that your favorite sports team is named after Native Americans? The practice of turning complex cultures into cartoonish mascots and reinforcing stereotypes of brutal “savages” is enough to keep the internet occupied for months.
One such argument has finally dragged to a conclusion as the University of North Dakota finally picked another icon for their sports teams than the problematic-as-all-hell “Fighting Sioux” nickname and American Indian head logo they’ve been using since 1930.
The predatory bird mascot was declared the winner after receiving 57 percent of the vote compared to 43 percent for Roughriders in the two-nickname runoff. The vote was open to people with UND ties, including students, staff and alums, and 27,378 votes were cast. The new nickname replaces the Fighting Sioux name that was retired by the state Board of Higher Education in 2012 because the NCAA deemed it “hostile and abusive.”
The five finalists, if you were wondering, were Fighting Hawks, Roughriders, Nodaks, Sundogs, and North Stars.
Naturally there’s all kinds of snark online as people get used to the new name (but come on, can you imagine how much worse it would be if they’d gone with the innuendo-laden Roughriders?)
As someone who went to a high school with a mascot named after a butterfly, I think the Fighting Hawks will work just fine once everyone’s used to it and the football team’s won a game or two.