By, Adam K. Fetterman
In the spring of 2010, the State Board of Education in North Dakota ruled to end the use of the University of North Dakota (UND) Fighting Sioux nickname/mascot. While some are praising the end, others are mourning the loss. Those that support the mascot assert that the mascot promotes American Indian honor and tradition. The opponents say that it promotes racism and a hostile environment for American Indians. While there seems to be little evidence for the former, aside from certain tribal councils supporting various mascots, there has been evidence for the latter. Martin Luther King Jr. once said “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” If so, this should be a good enough reason to retire American Indian mascots in its own. However, there may be even more of a reason to do so.
Recently, Kim-Prieto, Goldstein, Okazaki, and Kirschner (2010) found that when exposed to an image of an American Indian mascot, people were more likely to endorse stereotypes of other minority groups. They concluded that “the effects of these mascots have negative implications not just for American Indians, but for all consumers of the stereotype” (Kim-Prieto et al., 2010, p. 547). What this means is that the use of these mascots create a wider, hostile environment for all those exposed. Therefore, the retirement of the Fighting Sioux logo appears to be a step in the right direction towards reducing racism not only directed at American Indians, but also towards anyone else who may be a victim of racial stereotyping.