John Olsrud: A Sports Logo Should Not Hurt Anyone

fighting sioux

I am a proud graduate of the University of North Dakota.  When I attended, students’ activity fees allowed us go to sporting events at no additional cost.  Sports did not get the attention they get now.  I attended few games, and I never really identified with the Fighting Sioux logo.  In recent years, I have become something of a UND hockey fan, but that has nothing to do with the logo.

I have been following the controversy over this logo with a dispassionate interest.  As an American of Norwegian descent, I have always been proud of the Minnesota Vikings logo.  The controversy over the Fighting Sioux logo would have been so much easier if American Indians, especially those of the various Sioux tribes, could see that logo as an honor to their ancestry and traditions, just as we Norwegians see the Vikings logo as a reflection of our heritage.  But that is not to be.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]I do not want to offend anyone with my clothes.  I do not want to wear clothes that offend any other ethnic or religious groups either.[/mks_pullquote]

Years ago, I asked my family not to give me any clothes with the Fighting Sioux logo.  I do not want to offend anyone with my clothes.  I do not want to wear clothes that offend any other ethnic or religious groups either.  I know, we see quite a few American Indians wearing Fighting Sioux clothing.  But if there are some, even a minority, who find the logo hurtful and offensive, I want to respect them and avoid furthering the pain.

Not that it matters in this discussion, but I have learned that not everyone is in awe of the Vikings heritage either.  My wife and I were in a Bismarck restaurant that has a guest book.  My wife noticed the people ahead of us in line were from Scotland.  She introduced herself to these people, and told them she is of Scottish descent, and she was warmly received.  I then introduced myself, and said one of my great-grandfathers came from Scotland, but all the rest of my ancestry is Norwegian.  A very small Scottish lady pointed her finger at me and said the Norwegians were Vikings who raped and pillaged the Scottish people!  She was very serious.

I know there are some people who are very passionate about the Fighting Sioux logo, including at least one of my friends from college days.  When a new logo is selected, I hope there can be some reconciliation and we can rally around it. I know that is wishful thinking, but hopefully, time will heal the wounds this issue has caused.