Native American students at the University of Denver are demanding that the school drop the “Pioneers” — denouncing the nickname as a symbol of “genocide and oppression.” We previously discussed the controversial decisions to drop the “Fighting Sioux” and “Chief Illini” and the Aztecs. I have been critical of some of these moves and I would include the Pioneers among those ill-considered changes. The school has already yielded to demands to drop the informal mascot of Danial Boone by implementing a ban on masks on campus.
Boone was dropped by the schools as a “polarizing figure” in 2013. However, the school kept the Pioneer nickname.
Now the Native Student Alliance is campaigning for the nickname to be dropped, according to the school’s newspaper The Clarion.
Native Student Alliance co-president Raelene Woody insisted that the name is “associated with westward expansion, genocide, oppression, assimilation of Native American students.” It is certainly true that the term references Western expansion but that is a great part of the history of Colorado. Not all pioneers were oppressors or genocidal maniacs. Most were families looking for a better life and willing to face tremendous hardships to find it.
What do you think?