Controversy Over ‘Standing Rock’

By Emily Weikl

Staff Writer

The Sioux and Lakota reservation of Standing Rock resides in North Dakota and South Dakota. South Dakota is where the Wounded Knee massacre took place in December 1890, in which about 150 Native Americans of the Sioux tribe were killed. The United States government had worries of a growing “Ghost Dance” movement.

According to, “Many Sioux believed that if they practiced the Ghost Dance and rejected the ways of the white man, the gods would create the world anew and destroy all non-believers, including non-Indians.”

The U.S Calvary surrounded a group of Ghost Dancers about a week after Chief Sitting Bull died in the process of being arrested on suspicion of being a Ghost Dancer himself. A struggle between a soldier and one of the Sioux led to a shot being fired triggering the massacre.

Now in 2016, a protest is currently ongoing to stop the construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline going through Standing Rock.

According to, “The Dakota Access Pipeline Project is a new approximate 1,172-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline that will connect the rapidly expanding Bakken and Three Forks production areas in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois.”

The Sioux of Standing Rock believe that the pipeline will pollute their water supply if there is an oil spill. An elder from Wanblee, Minnesota and the Pine Ridge Reservation named Ista Hmi explained further in a report by

Hmi said, “The Missouri [River] here, it was poisoned already from the pesticides and all that but we were still able to clean it. But those are just topical compared to this oil. The oil, if it gets in here, it will start destroying the ecosystem underneath; it’ll be dead water.”

The secondary issue for the Sioux is that the pipeline will run through land considered to be sacred burial grounds. There have been calls by both those of Standing Rock and environmentalists to re-route the pipeline, along with numerous protests that have not always been peaceful.

During this time, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series against a team called the Cleveland Indians, whose logo is ‘Chief Wahoo,’ a red-faced caricature of a Native American.

According to, “The symbol first appeared in 1947, the creation of Walter Goldbach, a 17-year-old draftsman hired by Indians owner Bill Veeck to design a mascot that ‘would convey a spirit of pure joy and unbridled enthusiasm.’ Goldbach’s version had yellow skin and a phallically prominent nose.”

It first appeared on player’s uniforms in 1951 and had red skin instead.

The name “Indians” came about when a Native American player named Louis Sockalexis joined the team in 1897 while it was called the Spiders. The team was officially renamed in 1915. Sockalexis did not participate in many games, but in those games he dealt with, there were taunts against him. He had struggled with alcoholism which led to his career ending.

Joe Posnanski, an award-winning sportswriter that now works at USA Today, argued in that the naming of the team after a racial group seemed odd to him considering the time period.

Posnanski said, “why exactly would people in Cleveland — this in a time when Native Americans were generally viewed as subhuman in America — name their team after a relatively minor and certainly troubled outfielder?”

The protest in Standing Rock against the Dakota Access pipeline started in the summer of 2016.

On Oct. 27, the Press Herald said, “Rob Manfred, the commissioner of Major League Baseball, plans to meet with Cleveland Indians owner Paul Dolan after the World Series to discuss the controversial Chief Wahoo logo the franchise has used for generations.”

‘Chief Wahoo’ adorned the uniform of the Cleveland Indians as they played in the 112th World Series on Nov. 2, 2016.   

In April, Dolan told “We do have empathy for those who take issue with it [the logo]. We have minimized the use of it and we’ll continue to do what we think is appropriate.”

Today, Native Americans are no longer considered “subhuman,” but that time left an effect on how they are viewed now. There is no denying that the Trail of Tears happened. There is no denying that Wounded Knee happened. There is no denying that Native Americans have been subject to poor treatment. There is also no denying that many view the logo as harmless, and some of those are Native Americans themselves. They are not at fault for doing so, since they decide how to view depictions of themselves. Those who aren’t Native American should consider their history.