August 12, 2005

Hello. I'm Nick Coleman. Columnist Extraordinaire!

I'll admit it. I don't even have the energy to fisk Nick Coleman. Hell, it's past midnight, after all. So, I'll let Nick Coleman fisk himself, which sounds kinda dirty.

Aug. 18 marks the 143rd anniversary of the start of the Dakota Conflict, the Indian war that raged across Minnesota in 1862 and touched off three decades of war between the United States and the great Sioux Nation -- a war that didn't end until the massacre at Wounded Knee.

God dammit I love Google! I was just sitting here, totally oblivious to pretty much everything even remotely related to the Dakota Conflict, but with Google, I can practically convince all my non-Internet readers that I'm some sort of encyclopedia or some shit. I can convince people that I know stuff when, in truth, just this morning I thought Wounded Knee was what happened when I got up too fast from the toilet.

Too bad it's so hard to find out much about it these days.

Except for Google, of course.

In the epidemic of stupidity now stalking the land, the Lower Sioux History Center -- the only museum anywhere dedicated to telling the important story of the Dakota Conflict and exploring its causes and its outcomes -- remains closed for a second summer.

I can't believe how brilliant I am! Only I, the journalist activist, could conjure the amazing phrase "epidemic of stupidity now stalking the land." Why the hell am I continually passed over for Pulitzers? Wouldn't "Dakota Conflict" be a great name for an automobile? Whoops. Wait. There I go again, losing focus. I better make sure that doesn't happen again during this column. Focus, Nick Man, FOCUS.

Happily, there is news that it might be open again next year. More on that later. But first, let's turn to the Indian news that has many Americans hopping mad.

Aw, hell! Looks like I'm going to go off the rails anyway. Oh well, might as well go with it, I suppose.

It isn't the closing of a history museum, that's for sure. An Indian museum just tells the story of the original people of the land and how their cultures were devastated by the people who stole this country. Bit of a bummer, really. Best to avoid. Don't want to know too much. Makes your head hurt.

And it makes me, Nick Coleman, feel personally guilty for the nice house I live in on what was probably some pretty important Indian land. Not that I'd ever give it up if a downtrodden Sioux warrior down on his luck were to come by and ask for it. That would be silly! But, thankfully, because I'm a journalist activist, I can write tut-tutting columns like this that allow me to radiate all sorts of faux-outrage for the plight of the Native Americans.

But don't dare mess with Indian mascots.

Oh, that's right, I was going to lose my focus. Here we go.

If we want to tap into real anger about Indian stuff, all we have to do is bring up the recent decision by the NCAA ordering college teams with offensive Indian nicknames and mascots not to use them in postseason playoffs.

Did I just write "Indian stuff?" Holy crap, I did. There goes that Pulitzer. Again. And, by the way, where the hell am I going with this column now? Damn you, Adult ADD! Damnnnn YOUUUUUUUU!!

President Bush's little brother, Jeb, the governor of Florida, was outraged by the NCAA decision, which will prevent legions of war-paint-streaked frat boys from doing the "Seminole chop" at postseason Florida State University football games for years to come.

You know, it occurs to me that, if enough of those frat boys decide to do the Seminole chop despite the ban, not much is going to happen to them. Oh well, I'll keep the sentence in the column anyway, because it reads cool, in that "Old Angry Fart" style that I've perfected.

Predictably, the school's trustees have voted to appeal the ban, which is a waste of time. The NCAA could have been harsher and banned all Indian nicknames outright.

And while they're at it, they should do away with that "Fighting Irish" mascot, because that's just demeaning to the Irish.

Instead, they settled for a kind of Goober Law:

I'm back in Pulitzer contention, BABY!

"Dear Goober: You and all your fellow Goobers may call your teams whatever you want when you are at home, but if you get to the playoffs, decency requires you to clean up your act for respectable folks."

Hotchacha! I'm on fire now! Don't get in the way of my wit-filled pen, or you'll end up witting your pants! Granted, I'm eight million miles away from anything even remotely resembling a point, but I'm firing out the nonsense like nobody's business.

It makes sense to me, but then, I'm old-fashioned.

Boy howdy, am I ever! I'm the Grandpa Simpson of the newspaper biz, dadgummit.

I think this newspaper was reaching in the same direction two years ago when it abandoned a nine-year practice of not using offensive or derogatory nicknames, such as the Washington Redskins. Now, we use them when we have to, but pretty much wish they would stay out of our arena.

Uh oh, I feel one of my patented nonsensical political rants coming on. I'm getting the vapors! Must. Resist. Self-Righteous. Political. Gibberish. . . ARGH!

The issue may never go away. Not as long as we have the Washington Redskins, a team patronized by powerful politicians and lobbyists who claims its nickname is a tribute to American Indians. Well, two can play at the tribute game.

NOOOOOOOOOO! I can't stop myself! I must make a complete fool of myself from my mighty newspaper pulpit! Sure, it didn't play well in my former radio gig, but I can get away with ANYTHING here! I could call Gov. Pawlenty a "big old doody head," and they'd print the nonsense. Which gives me an idea. . .

That's why I have started calling Redskins' owner Daniel Snyder "The Vandal." Snyder, a gazillionaire, pressured the National Park Service (and offered them money) so he could cut down 130 trees on park property (violating the law) that blocked his view of the Potomac River.

So I call him "The Vandal," as a sort of tribute. "The Creep" would work, too.

I can't believe people read me and take me seriously! I'm absolutely stunned that I've held this job for as long as have! They PAY ME to do this! Thank GOD for the "epidemic of stupidity now stalking the land" or, more appropriately, stalking the Star-Tribune editorial board. I couldn't get a job at a small town weekly writing this garbage, but the Star-Tribune gives me my own personal megaphone without oversight. You know, I'm betting I can even throw out a Hitler and Nazi reference in this long-winded piece of dipshittery I'm writing, and the editors won't bat an eye. I'm gonna try it. . .

And don't get me started about the North Dakota Fighting Sioux. Despite the near-unanimous objection of North Dakota's Indian tribes, the Fighting Sioux logo has been chiseled on every stationary object in Grand Forks, largely due to a $100 million gift from a late Las Vegas casino owner who had a thing for Nazi memorabilia, Hitler portraits and the Fighting Sioux hockey team. Little known fact: UND's teams were the Flickertails until the 1930s, when fierce racial myths came into popularity.

See? SEE?! I can get away with ANYTHING! The power! The sheer, absolute power!

Put me down as one fan of the lowly Golden Gopher who is glad the good name of the Sioux will no longer be insulted by hockey players from Canada in future postseason college tournaments.

I suppose it's about time for me to try and wind this horrendous piece of crap back to some sort of original point.

Now back to the Lower Sioux History Center near Morton, Minn. It closed in June of last year after the Legislature cut the budget for the state Historical Society. A clearer example of how draconian budget cuts lead to a general dumbing-down of a place would be hard to find. Just seven years shy of the 150th anniversary of a terrible series of events that had a profound effect on the shape of Minnesota, the museum remains closed.

That's the great thing about this newspaper job. I can make it sound like the Lower Sioux History Center is a sprawling complex packed to the ceiling with every manner of Sioux artifact, rather than the sole Google whack that it is. But, the readers don't have to know that.

That's an outrage. A real one.

And I'm all about the outrage. But, you know, it occurs to me that I haven't included a "person on the street" quote yet. I need one of those. Preferably a moping, victimized Indian. Let me just quick consult my moping victim rolodex. . .

"Same old, same old," says Vernell Wabasha, an elder on the Lower Sioux reservation whose husband, Ernest, is a hereditary Dakota chief. "People seem to be more upset about losing some dumb nicknames than they are about losing the history. It seems like Indian people always have to have our guard up. We're always being attacked."

Well, that about does it. All of my trademark Nick Coleman laziness and old crank outrage has been incorporated. I suppose it's about time I wrap this up somehow.

The good news is that earlier this year, the Legislature restored some of the Historical Society's cuts so that the Lower Sioux museum (as well as several other sites that closed last year) can reopen. The museum is expected to be back in business next summer.

In other words, I spent this entire column basically pissing and moaning about pretty much nothing. But, hey, that's what I do!

It's about time.

Who knows? Some day, we may care more about a people who were -- and are -- major players in the story of Minnesota than we care about a football team's nickname.

Well, that's done. Man, I can't believe I get paid for this. Un-fucking-believable.

Posted by Ryan at August 12, 2005 12:37 AM | TrackBack

Nick needs to get some shit straight.

Like how the Redskins were named by a Redskin to honor other Redskins.

In 1933, the Boston Braves hired William "Lone Star" Dietz, a Native American (or indigenous person or American Indian or whatever the fuck Nick wants to call him), as head coach (the ONLY American Indian head coach in NFL history).

Dietz also brought with him a few of his fellow Native Americans to play on the team, which then moved to Fenway Park and changed their name to one suggested by Dietz as a tribute to his proud warrior players.

In 1937, the Redskins moved to Washington DC.

As far as Dan Snyder and the trees:
How the FUCK can it be against the law if the US Park Service game him permission?

It's not illegal... just unprecedented.

Sure, the Park Service got some money out of the deal, but Snyder planted 10 TIMES as many new trees (while leaving MOST of the trees he had wanted to cut still standing) AND, if the difference between the former appraised value of his home and a re-appraised value exceeds the amount he gave the Park Service, the difference goes to the US Govt.

Posted by: Rob@L&R at August 12, 2005 11:59 AM

So the whole column was about something that was broken but has already been fixed?

I think it's time for the senile old coot to retire.

Posted by: Keith at August 12, 2005 12:16 PM

No, Keith, that part was just to tie in something in Minnesota to his rant about Indian nicknames.

He had to do it that way because it wouldn't make sense if he whined about the Twins, the Vikings, the T-Wolves or the Gophers.

Posted by: Rob@L&R at August 12, 2005 12:29 PM

And a WEAK tie-in at that.

Posted by: Ryan at August 12, 2005 12:33 PM

Exactly, Ryan.

But when has that stopped Nick?

Posted by: Rob@L&R at August 12, 2005 12:36 PM

I would like to point out the fact that this post was "made" by your timely and perfectly appropriate use of "Boy howdy". Not enough Boy Howdy's in the world these days and damned if those two words together don't just make me want to get out my penknife and whittlin' stick.

Posted by: Johnny Huh? at August 12, 2005 06:40 PM

I'm starting a MOB fantasy football league if you are interested, you can join by going to and read the mobsquad article for instructions on how to join.

Posted by: TOMMY G. at August 13, 2005 07:41 PM
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