Another Indian Mascot Falls in North Dakota; Chowanoke People in North Carolina Reclaim Land and Identity

From Wikimedia Commons
From Wikimedia Commons

The North Dakota University dropped the mascot name of “Fighting Sioux” in 2012, following a long and contentious debate about its offensive nature. Next up are changes to North Dakota  highway signs, which features the silhouette of a Native leader in headdress.

According to a blog called “The First Scout“:

In 1923, Red Tomahawk’s profile was chosen to mark all North Dakota state highways. It is displayed to show all travelers that a friendly Lakota was safely guiding them.

Who is this friendly Lakota, Red Tomahawk? He is best known as one of the Standing Rock police that shot and killed Sitting Bull.

The North Dakota Department of Transportation faced complaints and threats of lawsuits over the signage, according to a recent MPR story. Plans are moving forward to have new signs replace the Indian silhouette with the outline of the state of North Dakota. It will take 10 years to replace all the signs.

The Department of Transportation says the possible legal action had nothing to do with its decision to change the signs. According to the story, “the change was done to pay tribute to the agency’s 100th birthday next year and get in step with other states’ signage.”

Whether or not that is the real reason for the change, the change is a good one.

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This Day in History: Sitting Bull Killed by Indian Police; Good Deal on Wild Rice

With all the recent controversy over police shootings, here is one that is 125 years old. On this day in history, December 15, 1890, Sitting Bull, a chief and spiritual leader of the Hunkpapa Lakota, was shot and killed by Indian police during an attempt to arrest him.

Sitting Bull was a hero at the Battle of the Little Big Horn and later joined Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show. After leaving, he returned to the Standing Rock Reservation in the Dakotas. A U.S. Indian agent wanted him arrested for fear he would join the growing Ghost Dance movement. According to Wikipedia, this was a relatively new religious movement among Native Americans that aspired to expelling settlers reclaiming their land. Followers believed:

proper practice of the dance would reunite the living with spirits of the dead, bring the spirits of the dead to fight on their behalf, make the white colonists leave, and bring peace, prosperity, and unity to native peoples throughout the region.

Fearing Sitting Bull would flee the reservation and join Ghost Dancers, Siting Bull was ordered arrested. According to Wikipedia’s account of the shooting, the suggested plan called for whisking Sitting Bull away by wagon first thing in the morning before his supporters could rally. The policeman in charge, Lt. Henry Bullhead, planned instead to force Sitting Bull to mount a horse after being arrested.

As it played out, Sitting Bull resisted arrest and his supporters came to his aid. When police used force on Sitting Bull, his supporters responded violently. One of his allies shot Bullhead, who responded by shooting Sitting Bull in the chest. A second policeman shot Sitting Bull in the head, killing him. More shooting erupted. When it was over, eight Indian police were dead, including Bullhead; Sitting Bull and seven of his supporters were dead.

Here is a reflection on Sitting Bull published in 2013 in Indian Country Today: Native History: Sitting Bull Shot By Indian Police, His Legacy Remains.

Good Deal on Wild Rice

The Leech Lake Twin Cities office, 1113 East Franklin Street, Suite 210 B [Corrected Address] (above Maria’s Cafe) is offering traditionally hand harvest wild rice for sale, $5 a pound for tribal members and $8 a pound for non-tribal members. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.