There is honor in some nicknames

There has been a lot of pressure over the years for athletic teams to give up racially-charged nicknames. The University of North Dakota gave up the name “Fighting Sioux” in 2012 over the objections of many of its loyal alumni. The NFL’s Washington franchise is adamantly resisting pressure to change the team name from “Redskins” to something more politically correct, and the Cleveland Indians have been criticized for years for their “Chief Wahoo” caricature logo.

One of the groups fighting for this change took aim this week at the Warroad High School “Warriors” and their Indian logo. The National Coalition against Racism in Sports and Media sent a letter threatening to sue the Warroad School District if it didn’t change its nickname. In this case, the coalition got schooled about nicknames that actually do represent community pride. Henry Boucha, the Warroad High school hockey star who went on to Olympic and NHL?glory, and who is also an Ojibwa, set the committee straight on the origins of the name Warroad – it’s from the trail the Ojibwa warriors took to battle the invading Sioux – and the fact that his great-great-uncle sold the land to the school district in 1905 with the stipulation that they call themselves the Warroad Warriors, and that several years ago the tribal community, with the school district, worked to develop the logo and approves of the name “Warriors.”

The coalition rescinded its letter and has asked Boucha to serve on its board.

There are towns where an Indian-based name may be appropriate. The Sleepy?Eye Indians, for example, are protective of their name, which stems from Chief Sleepy Eye, after whom the city is named. As long as there is a logical reason for such a name, the name isn’t innately offensive and the school or team treats the name with respect, the names should be allowed to stand.

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