Push To Change Sisseton ‘Redmen’ Mascot
Tribal Members Make Public Demonstration
Sorry, this video is no longer available
It’s been a controversial issue across the country in recent years, but in Sisseton the debate has been going on for three decades.
The school’s Redmen mascot is again drawing criticism from tribal members. Dozens of people opposed to the mascot made a public demonstration at a girl’s basketball game where Sisseton High School faced the tribal school, Tiospa Zina. The goal was to spark a conversation, and help put an end to the Redmen name.
It’s a high school tradition to some, but to others it’s a mockery.
“It’s the imagery. The lack of respect for native imagery, native culture,” said Brian Frejo, motivational speaker.
Tribal members on the Lake Traverse Indian Reservation say it’s time to eliminate the Redmen mascot at Sisseton Public Schools for good.
“There are still people stuck in that mentality like ‘it’s okay, why change it, it’s just a mascot’,” said Sarah Manning, Tiospa Zina Teacher.
Manning says a handful of young women on the Tiospa Zina basketball team came up with the idea to wear shirts with the words ‘not your mascot’, to their game against Sisseton.
“It’s a really sensitive topic to talk about on our reservation because it’s been around for so long,” said Alexandria Greybull, former Tiospa Zina student.
Greybull says she fully supports the effort.
“I really hope it catches a good eye and the school board sees how had it affects our people,” said Greybull.
Tribal members hope their demonstration sends a powerful message, but others say it’s a message the Sisseton school has heard before.
“It gets brought up like every 10 years,”said Pat Schubert.
Schubert is married to the Sisseton girl’s basketball coach. To her, the Redmen name represents strength and power.
“I don’t understand it because if it was named after Norwegians like a viking, I’d be proud. But if it’s offensive, I don’t want to be offensive. Let’s change it then,” said Schubert.
Schubert says there’s a reason that change hasn’t happened yet despite years of discussion.
“We have some strong tribal elders that are very proud of the Sisseton Redmen name,” said Schubert.
“I think if people are open minded enough to entertain the facts, they might change their mind,” said Manning.
Several of the Tiospa Zina basketball players who organized the demonstration are former Sisseton High School students. Manning says that may have been part of the reason why they wanted to make this statement at the game.