Students protest racist team names

MINNEAPOLIS – As the University of North Dakota’s “Fighting Sioux” hockey team arrived here to play the University of Minnesota Gophers Jan. 5, it was greeted with placards and shouts calling on the team to change its name. All the Dakota (Sioux) tribes have demanded an end to the racist practice of using Indian teams to represent aggression and violence.

The protest was sponsored by the North Central Association of Faculty and Students (NCAFS) and 25 other organizations from Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North and South Dakota.

The demonstrators also called on University of Minnesota President Mark Yudof to end his opposition to an NCAA ban on the use of Indian team names, mascots and logos. At the meeting of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association last April, the University of Minnesota voted against a resolution condemning this practice. The resolution, defeated by a vote of 9-1, had been introduced by St. Cloud (Minn.) State University President Roy Saigo. Saigo has presented the same resolution to the NCAA, which will take up the question this year.

Although the region’s main universities have policies against playing teams with racist names and logos, these policies are mainly toothless since they exclude conference games.

In a statement issued last April the United States Commission on Civil Rights called for “an end to the use of Native American images and team names by non-Native schools.”

The NCAFS, together with other regional and local groups, is planning to demonstrate against this practice Feb. 15 and 16 when the University of North Dakota basketball team comes to Mankato and St. Cloud. For information on the protest, e-mail marqu002@umn.edu.