University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux won't go down without a fight

Even if school officials would like to

By Matt Driscoll on February 22, 2012

I went to The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. As Washingtonians know, it's a small liberal arts school in the middle of the woods, full of hippies. Simpsons creator Matt Groening, Kramer from Seinfeld (the racist one), Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker of groundbreaking riot grrl band Sleater-Kinney and adult-film star Noname Jane are all alums ... although, in fairness, I relied on Wikipedia for the last one.

The school's mascot is the geoduck. It's pronounced "gooey duck," surely one of the least threatening school mascots of all time. For those not in the know, a geoduck is basically a big clam with a giant disgusting phallic neck-thing. In the wild, geoducks dig into the sand at the beach and will squirt water at you if you step on them. That's about it. Again, according to Wikipedia, Evergreen's official motto, "Omnia Extares" or "Let it all hang out" is "at least partially intended as a tongue-in-cheek reference" to the fact the geoduck looks like a clam with a massive dick flopping out of it. I'm paraphrasing, of course. I actually didn't realize the school had an official motto. To be honest, having an "official" motto is a little too "official" for my liking. (And, yes, I'm using quotation marks for ironic effect.)

A liberal arts school with a student body and faculty full of raging, uber-liberal liberals, Evergreen's geoduck mascot succeeds in being completely non-threatening and offensive to absolutely no one. This sort of thing is important to uber-liberal liberals. Though Evergreen "competes" (there go those ironic quote marks again) in a number of sports - basketball, soccer, volleyball, bong hits - competition takes on a whole new meaning in an environment like Evergreen's. The mascot is fitting.

Halfway across the country, in North Dakota, the University of North Dakota has been embroiled in a legal, ethical and public relations fiasco since 2005, when the NCAA mandated that the school do away with its longtime mascot name - the Fighting Sioux - unless UND received permission from local Native American tribes to use it. The Standing Rock tribe, members of the Dakota and Lakota nations - with people, often called Sioux, stretched across North and South Dakota according to - has refused to give the school permission. Thus UND reluctantly commenced the long, painful process of changing names. According to a recent story by Pat Borzi of the New York Times, this process - which is yet to be completed, and was recently interupted - has meant "scrubbing references to the nickname and logo, including buying new uniforms and renaming its Web site and booster clubs." School officials say they've already spent $750,000 removing the Sioux nickname and logo off of everything from team uniforms to its website.

In an effort to comply with the NCAA and put the somewhat embarrassing story behind the state, the North Dakota Board of Higher Education mandated that the transition from Fighting Sioux to something less racist be close-to-complete by Dec. 31, 2011. Not to be outdone, the North Dakota State Legislature was persuaded by zealots to pass a law last March requiring UND to keep the Fighting Sioux nickname.

That law was repealed in November after it was concluded the NCAA would not back down on its no-overtly-racist mascots rule.

Nice try though.

As Borzi's story details, supporters of the Fighting Sioux - the mascot - have not given up, even if most now agree it would be in the best interest of the university. On Feb. 7, a pro-Fighting Sioux group filed enough petition signatures to momentarily reinstate the name and force a statewide referendum on whether to retain it - thus clouding a situation that was finally nearing clarity after a lengthy (and at times nasty) debate .

While initially there were many in favor of keeping the school's traditional mascot - including UND hockey coach Dave Hakstol and school's athletic director Brian Faison - according to a Feb. 21 story by Rachel Blount in Minnesota's Star Tribuneeven formally staunch supporters of keeping the Fighting Sioux have come to terms with reality. With UND preparing for a move to the Big Sky Conference in all sports but hockey, Big Sky Commissioner Doug Fullerton tells the New York Times that could change if nonconference opponents refuse to play UND because of its racist name. Already UND's two biggest rivals, Minnesota and Wisconsin, have policies against scheduling games with schools with "Indian nicknames" according to the Times

UPDATE: The Associated Press in Duluth, Minn. reports that the University of Minnesota-Duluth has reprimanded its student section for chants directed at the UND still, reluctantly Fighting Sioux during a recent hockey series. UND fan Chad Czmowski told The Duluth News-Tribunethat students made war-whooping noises and chanted "smallpox blankets" during the Feb. 10-11 series

Just another day in the life of the Fighting Sioux.


According to a report in the always-classy New York Post, Yankees' superstar Alex Rodriguez is as clueless as ever, even as the performance-enhanced dreamboat prepares for his 19th season in Major League Baseball. As the Post details, Rodriguez is currently adhering to a strict diet, which a source tells the paper is "high-protein." Because of this strict diet, the Yankees' third basemen was seen at the Mondrian Hotel pool in South Beach, Miami over the weekend - accompanied not only by his new girlfriend Torrie Wilson (of WWE fame), but also by a cooler of his own food. According to the story in the Post, "Rodriguez was seen asking a waitress to heat up his special meal in the kitchen, while Wilson nibbled on the poolside cafe's chips and guacamole." For those wondering, yes, that party just took a turn for the douche. ... Because it had been at least a week since major media outlets had a Tim Tebow-related headline to run with, this week GQ Magazine and Mike Silver published "The Year of Magical Stinking: An Oral History of Tebow Time" - which is, basically, a glorified collection of quotes from players, coaches and NFL analysts taken throughout the 2011 NFL season. As can be expected, religion, luck and lunatic fans are all mentioned at various times and by various interviewees. The biggest waves, however, were made by comments credited to Denver Broncos' backup quarterback Brady Quinn, who apparently told Silver in interviews that took place roughly three months ago that, "We've had a lot of, I guess, luck, to put it simply," and that Tebow's in-your-face Christianity doesn't "seem very humble to me." Tuesday, Quinn spent his time officially apologizing to Tebow and Broncos fans, saying, "I apologize to anyone who feels I was trying to take anything away from our team's or Tim's success this season." Quinn also took issue with the tone attributed to his quotes in the article, taking to Twitter to say  the quotes don't reflect his actual feelings about Tebow, and that the left-handed, non-aborted QB from Florida "deserves a lot of credit for our success and I'm happy for him and what he accomplished. Most importantly, he is a great teammate." All of this just goes to prove, of course, that even Brady Quinn realizes you don't want to get on the bad side of Tebow's crazy-ass fans, even if it's for saying something completely rationale. ... Finally, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported this week that Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is mildly perturbed by the fact new offensive coordinator and dirty hat-wearer Todd Haley has yet to contact him, telling the paper, ""He still hasn't called yet," in a voice described as "discouraged." According to reports, Roethlisberger was upset when longtime offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was let go earlier in the offseason, and has offered only mild support and/or skepticism regarding the hiring of Haley. No word on how Roethlisberger responded when reporters noted the star QB has never called any of his rape victims.