In Defense of Mr. Jon Lipp
This is my own, completely unsolicited, opinion and response about the University of North Dakota’s ongoing struggles with the transition from Fighting Sioux to Fighting Hawks.
On April 14th, 2016, Jon Lipp, a student of North Dakota State University authored a piece in NDSU’s student newspaper “The Spectrum” outlining his dissatisfaction surrounding the response of University of North Dakota fans after they won the NCAA Men’s Hockey national championship. Mr. Lipp went on to discuss the difficulties that some North Dakotan’s are having with the image they are receiving on a national stage due to the reluctance to transition away from the antiquated Fighting Sioux moniker. This letter is a response to Mr. Lipp’s article. You can find the link to his original article attached below:
I wanted to applaud your decision to write an article about the University of North Dakota nickname and their reaction to winning the championship. I have called Grand Forks home for 22 years. I grew up in Grand Forks and was a University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux fan my entire life, but that time is over. At the end of the day the Fighting Sioux moniker is gone and it won’t ever be coming back. I am fiercely proud of the fact that I was a UND Fighting Sioux fan, and no one will ever be able to take that away from me— “was” being the operative word.
This fall I will be attending the University of North Dakota School of Law as a Juris Doctor candidate. Although it may not garner me any favor with my classmates, I am proud to have the distinct honor of calling myself one of the first University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks! It is my hope that I will be able to proudly support the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks for the next 22 years of my life.
Kudos to you, Mr. Lipp, for bringing up a topic that is so uncomfortable for people across the state and the nation; appropriation is not appreciation. Also, I apologize that you are catching so much hell over your article, it was well written.
It is my opinion that the disjointed nickname and logo process is a huge culprit to blame for the continued rallying behind Fighting Sioux moniker. The public voting process disenfranchised huge sections of the populous participating because they felt like their views and wishes were ignored. The responses of the members of the public after the votes were held?
“I think the nickname they chose is stupid because it isn’t the one I chose; I’m still a Sioux.”
UND students, alumni, and supporters rallied behind the only thing they knew up until that point, the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo. If a new nickname and logo had been introduced within the first calendar year of the announced transition I doubt we would even be having this conversation today. The ironic part about all of this is the fact UND students, alumni, and supporters feel as if they have been stripped of their identities; when in reality they were hiding behind a banner of institutional racism that has taken the identities of centuries of First Nations people.
Personally, it is my hope that the new Fighting Hawks logo is designed with the influence, and permission, of Santee, Yankton-Yanktonai, and/or Lakota First Nations people— the three major divisions of people commonly referred to as Sioux. The graphic depictions of birds in the art of First Nations people are stunningly beautiful. Once the new Fighting Hawks logo is revealed to the public the wounds of this transition will start to heal in North Dakota.
I am now speaking directly to you Mr. Lipp; I hope you know and that you understand that you are not alone in your decision to speak out about the sorry-state of affairs in Grand Forks. In fact, I would say that you are making a concerted effort to be on the right side of change in North Dakota.
For those having difficulty understanding Mr. Lipp’s commentary I would like to simplify it for you;
You are allowed to be critical of the reluctance to transition away from the Fighting Sioux nickname and be a student at North Dakota State University; the two are not mutually exclusive.
Keep up the good work, Jon!