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Willing to help out with IMILS cases

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In early April, the University of North Dakota dropped a vilified mascot name the "Fighting Sioux." That is, after a decade of litigation (including an NCAA lawsuit against the school for the racially offensive logo) and around twenty years of protests. The Frozen Four hockey power house (with a $100 million stadium full of 1,200 logo inset arena seats) will have to undergo some changes. The day after the announcement, hundreds of pro mascot protesters flocked the University's grounds to show their dismay. It's gonna be a tough year. Probably a lot of counseling for those suffering from Indian Mascot Identity Loss Syndrome (IMILS), and generally a challenge for the University. I applaud the North Dakota Board of Education for taking a decisive and healing move.

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Things change, and we need to be grown ups and address the change, despite an 80 year attachment to a mascot. It is just a mascot. It's not like you had your homeland buried under a dam project, or had your village burned by the military. And, the Lakota people and other Native people deserve to be recognized as more than mascots. Consider that despite how "proud" some folks might feel about the mascot, they might not feel so proud about the economics of the Sioux. It is a 120 years after the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890, and 10 of the 20 poorest counties in the country are Native reservations. The vast majority of them are Lakota and Dakota reservations.

I believe that the poorest people in the country should not be Native people, and I believe that rich people and families like those of the Engelstads (who received some front page coverage in the Fargo Forum about their concerns) should do better things with their money -- like maybe invest in the environment, culture, and restoring local food systems. That'd be what I would do if I was rich. Trustee Kris Engelstad McGarry said in a press release the family felt "deceived", and was so concerned about the status of the logo, they financed much of the legal fight against the National College Athletic Association.

Let me explain a bit about deceived -- how about some 470 broken treaties? How about promises like as long as the grass shall grow and rivers flow? How about promises to not dig up people and put them in museums for everyone to see? How about treaty guaranteed rights of hunting, fishing and wild ricing, being ignored by state authorities? And, how about those 23 Congressional Medals of Honor awarded to soldiers who committed the Wounded Knee Massacre, or the fact that Congress has never issued a formal apology for the devastation wrought?

I would like to feel sorry for the Engelstad family and the University of North Dakota mascot supporters, but I can't seem to muster up that sympathy. I could suggest some counselors who have experience in the Native American community with some ongoing historic trauma. And, I would be happy to work on helping the family and University move to a promising and just relationship with Native people. Just let me know.

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