Ex-mayor of Bismark, ND trademarks alternatives to "Fighting Sioux" in bid to prevent UND team from switching to non-racist name

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Not sure why you withdrew your comment on this so I’ll just ask myself.
Why is it that Fighting Sioux is unacceptable or racist in use for a university team’s name while it’s just fine to have an entire state use the Dakota tribe’s name?
I could see them enforcing perhaps a change of logo if it were a racist caricature, and name changes seem reasonable in cases where the name is actually racist (IE: Redskins). But this instance doesn’t fit.

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I withdrew it because I realized that the difference is the UND atheletes are not actually Sioux, whereas the Dakotas are the actual ancestral homelands of the Dakota peoples. However, it does seem like kind of a “fuck you” to keep the name of a place after you’ve murdered, subjugated, or driven out the people it was named for. I mean, what if someone came along and evicted you from your house, then moved in and put up a big “Formerly Amstrad’s House” sign as you shiver in the gutter across the street, watching the new occupants rearranging your furniture and enjoying your stuff?


While I think this is a valid argument the ultimate problem with it is that when naming places in the US the names of local tribes were used a great deal. See for instance: Alabama, Iowa, Missouri and any number of counties, cities, and towns. If the use of a tribe’s name required the majority presence or even agreement of members of that tribe there would likely have to be a great deal of place name changing occurring. Maybe there should be I guess?

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I don’t get it or miss some detail of the US trademark system. I briefly searched the USPTO trademark database; no obvious hits - and why is some state official involved? I thought trademarks are a federal domain in the USA?

He registered the trademarks on his own behalf, not in his capacity as a former government official.

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rtfa : P

Haakenson said he registered the trade names on Sept. 4, though they were not officially registered until Monday. He was prevented from registering a fourth name, Roughriders, because Secretary of State Al Jaeger said it was too similar to an existing registered trade name in the state.

afaik the “officially registered” part is the job of the Patent and Trademark Office, but it seems Jaeger (or some other state official) denied one name because of a similar state trademark.

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There is some incorrect and missing information in the summary. First, UND already got rid of the Sioux logo and Fighting sioux nickname several years ago in response to NCAA sanctions. Currently, they are simply referred to as “North Dakota” at sporting events. They don’t have to change it again if they don’t want to. Right now, there is a ballot measure or something brewing to vote on the new name. The recent controversy is that they eliminated ‘North Dakota’ as one of the options. Many seem to view this option as a placeholder for the day when they kick the liberals out of North Dakota and can go back to being the Sioux. The mayor is playing into this controversy, trying to prevent a name change from ‘Nothing’/‘North Dakota’. Frankly, the new mascots options are all pretty dumb. I support a return to the Flickertails, but I’m a liberal who was kicked out of North Dakota, so I don’t have a say.

The history of the nickname Sioux dates back to the early 20th century; it was apparently suggested by UND students as a mascot they could be more proud of than the wimpy ‘Flickertails’. North Dakota is still known as the Flickertail state, but nobody remembers why. In recent years as the use of native names became more controversial, the administration and politicians doubled down on insisting that it was OK, and in a series of gaffes it failed to include or appease the 3 or 4 native tribal group authorities representing Lakota/Sioux/etc. heritage in North Dakota. Several of them supported using Sioux at different times, but one or two did not, and UND was tonedeaf here. I believe the final sanctions from NCAA came because the school could not get support from all the Sioux tribes in North Dakota. But UND came to the table reluctantly and might have been able to win support if there had been a history of engaging with the native groups, supporting them, honoring and studying their history, promoting scholarships, etc. in a way that wasn’t caused by NCAA holding their feet to the fire. This is supposedly why Illinois and whatever Florida school is the Seminoles kept their native mascots. More likely it is because those tribes were massacred more completely than the Sioux, so there were fewer people to negotiate with.


Ah, bless the NCAA for standing up against Native American mascots, except the FSU Seminoles, and the Fightin’ Illini because – hey – those makes us a pisspot of money. But University of North Dakota hey – we need to make an example of you, so we can stretch out the gravy train on the other a few more years.


There are probably an infinite number of names that could be chosen, and if he tries to hoard all the preferable alternative names he’s only ensuring that the team might be changed to something even more cringe-worthy than “Fighting Sioux.”

Case in point: Hartford CT just named their minor league baseball team “The Yard Goats.” How would he feel about that name?

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I think the “Fighting” is an extra troublesome part of the team name, but I can’t say specifically as I’m not a Native American (though I did recently find out that I am either 1/16 or 1/32 First Nations, on my mother’s side, I [and society] consider myself a regular ol’ white dude).

I think using it for the state names shows a certain level of seriousness, commitment and respect that is not quite there when the alternative is a cartoon tiger or something along those lines.

I think everyone a few generations in America finds this out, but I don’t think most of the reveals pan out :stuck_out_tongue:

Supposedly there’s a not-insignificant population of Métis in the area of New Brunswick that my grandmother came from, so it isn’t really too much of a surprise to find out that her mother (or grandmother, I can’t recall the details) was Métis. I’m not overly interested in hunting down the details, personally (it’s not like I’m going to be applying for a status card), but it was a nifty bit of trivia to find out recently (my grandmother is suffering from full on dementia, and had never told her kids about it, so my aunt only found this news out from her aunt, my grandmother’s sister, sometime in the last 6 months or so)

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Edited to add: I swear I didn’t see you’d already said it was Metis when I typed that!

Hey, back in the 70s that alone would entitle you to say you were half-Cherokee. Everybody was, even Cher.


Sure, i was just suggesting that it’s worth tracking down if but so a legend doesn’t continue to get passed on if it didn’t end up being based in reality.

I say this not because I am disbelieving your history so much as I had to quash that family rumor in my own.

Yeah, maybe some day. Or maybe one of my other relatives will do the legwork for me, as I am soooo lazy. :slight_smile:


FSU sought out and was granted the approval of the Seminole tribe. The University of Illinois was effectively banned from using the Chief Illiniwek mascot by the NCAA in 2007, after decades of criticism; the name “Fighting Illini” predates the mascot and is considered to refer to all Illinoisians, not just Indians.

Having a goofy name is more badass than having a dumb intimidating name. “Yeah, I get it, you’re a scary predator, rawr. But those Banana Slugs can’t possibly be as innocuous as they sound…”