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What's in a name?

If you were at the game (unlikely) or have listened to the audio I recorded from the Fusion v City game, or even if you didn't - you may be aware of the fact that the Dakota Fusion have been playing in Moorhead, Minnesota so far this year.

There are solid financial reasons for being on this side of the Red River. The use of the word Dakota in the team name drew the sarcastic attention of the 'Citizens' so here is my take - as a new immigrant but someone married to a woman with deep roots in the area.

No one in Fargo, Moorhead, West Fargo or Dilworth really cares about the border. There is a road sign when you enter ND on the I-94 that marks the border but from memory no such protestation on the Veterans Memorial Bridge (although both state flags are on their 'sides').

Minot Air Force Base put together a side last year and there were rumors of a Bismarck team planning to play FC Fargo last year as a warm-up to trying to get entry to the US Open Cup but neither actually came out to play. Obviously, Amadu went back home and founded a team in Sioux Falls, SD too, so they could legitimately call themselves Dakota something....but they didn't.

MAFB haven't tweeted since last October and obviously they have more important things to do than join a league like NPSL. No sign of anything from Bismarck. I might return to this subject if Sioux Falls finish above the Fusion in the standings.

Historically, there are two reasons why the name doesn't feel inaccurate to me. Dakota Fusion are Fargo-Moorhead's team (see strong links to the cross-border Tri-City Storm youth club) but also have strong representation from Jamestown, ND and even a roster member from Aberdeen, SD.

Dakota Territory was founded as one part of the United States in 1861 and split into ND and SD in 1869. The public and private bodies in both states have, since that point, maintained a long history of both competition and co-operation. As have Minnesota and North Dakota.

Whilst Dakota means friend (in the native language of the native inhabitants of this fertile river valley) , the territory was also the "prize" of part of the Louisiana Purchase (by Spain and then France), and the Hudson Bay drainage basin known as Prince Rupert's Land (sold by Britain to Canada and the USA), neither of which 'purchases' acknowledged the presence or sovereignty of the Natives on the land.

It would be nice is Dakota Fusion acknowledged their presence on unceded land. As you can see from  this map, the seven fires of the Oceti Sakowin were once at home across a broad swathe of NPSL North territory but nowadays the closest areas controlled by tribes are the reservations at White Earth (north and east of Fargo by about an hour - see my other blog for miles on that)  and Red Lake (about half way between Fargo and Duluth... incidentally a great location for a game between the two clubs to try and raise awareness of soccer amongst the Native population, in my humble opinion). They are both Anishinaabe, not Dakota, but those two groups have been battling each other for territory for most of their existence.

Red Lake in particular are proud of the fact that they remain resident on land that they acquired through conquest rather than allocation (as was the case with White Earth, an area substantially designated as a dumping ground for Natives that they wanted out of the way of Westward expansion)

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community are also a substantial cultural presence in the Twin Cities metro and this map shows the extent of reservation land still present in South Dakota, with Flandreau Santee the closest to Sioux Falls.

Also, out of respect, I will add that not all Natives live on reservations. The reasons for that are complex, including mixed-heritage and the theft of Native children by non Native adoption mechanisms. I'm certainly not an expert on Native culture but I continue to do my best to learn, and to respect the peoples on who's land I have am now living.

So ok, this post became something else entirely and usually these kind of thoughts feature on my other blog but I will finish this by wondering aloud what steps the supporters of NPSL North could do to respect their place on unceded land.

Love and peace,

Tim