Getting close with God at Devils Lake, ND [and a quote from Darkness at Noon]

Hunter Gray hunterbadbear at
Tue Aug 27 13:33:49 MDT 2002

Note by Hunterbear:

Don't get me wrong.  I don't believe in a Literal Satan.  And I'm not really
one of the
Satan Lovers  [the name, incidentally, of an especially challenging early
'70s youth
gang in the Englewood region of Southside Chicago.]  And I ain't no
Christian Purist,

I  do know Devils Lake, North Dakota pretty well indeed -- where, until a
historical moment ago, the high school athletic teams were known as the
Satans.  [And I also know, BTW, Chuck Haga, the quite capable reporter and
good guy who has written this piece for the Minneapolis Star. Formerly of
the Grand Forks Herald and UND Journalism, he's interviewed me on a number
of occasions over past years.]

I don't usually spend lots of sympathy on Devils Lake.  A small
hard-scrabble city
[8,000 or so]  in the northeast/central part of the state, it adjoins the
lake by the same
name and it's also immediately adjacent to the Fort Totten Sioux Reservation
[Spirit Lake Nation.] And, despite the presence
of a number of very decent people within its city limits,  Devils Lake has
in the past exemplified some
of the  worst border-town anti-Indian bigotry and outright racism I've ever
seen anywhere. And all the while and concurrently, of course, it's
historically exploited
the Indians in every economic way it can.  In the late 1980s, we fought a
number of
successful Native rights battles at Devils Lake -- with successful
booster-skirmishes thereafter -- and, while things there are still far from
the Beloved Community, they've been a lot better attitude and action-wise
ever since
our very intensive Just Wars.  See this page on our website for some idea of
the issues
and struggles's%20Lake.htm

About a decade ago, the Devils Lake Sioux Tribe, in a very reasonable move
which had nothing whatsoever to do with Christian theology and everything to
do with  Tribal Nationhood and Tradition, changed its name to the Spirit
Lake Nation.

And for a long, long time  indeed Christian purists at Devils Lake have been
extremely unhappy theologically with the high school's use of Satan as its
athletic totem.
But, until a few minutes ago so to speak, high school traditionalists and
their supporters were able to keep Satan safe and secure in their hearts,
minds, and sports arenas.

No longer.  In a super-cowardly capitulation to religious fundamentalism and
politically-correct twittering, the Devils Lake School Board, never usually
known for its sensitivity to anything warm-blooded, has dumped Ole Nick.

I'll bet the kids are mad as Pure Hell.  And so, frankly, am I.

North Dakota is a place where pedigree -- especially Old Pedigree -- is
mighty crucial, socially and politically. My father was a full-blooded
Indian and
my mother Scottish-American and I grew up in Northern Arizona --
BUT my mother's extremely hot-tempered grandfather came from Ontario,
with his black Stetson hat, into Dakota Territory in 1870 [that portion of
the tough Plains that eventually became North Dakota in 1889 ]  and, through
and violence, established a large ranch on which he raised horses and
ten feisty children -- the oldest of whom was my grandfather.[The old
rancher got along well enough with the Indians -- but never with
homesteaders.]  Anyway, I have a North Dakota Pioneer Certificate [!]
attesting to my Dakota Territorial blood ties --  and it's also on our large
website.  Speaking from that perspective -- the
Certificate  & Symbolism  -- I strongly object to dumping Satan into [or
out of] Devils Lake.  Satan is about the only titillating thing that poor
town has  going for it --  for as long as I can remember.

And Satan also kind of fits the place. And kind of a right tight fit it is.

But I wouldn't count Ole Satan  out of things too quick-like.  As Ivanov
[the soon-to-be killed himself secret police inquisitor of his old friend
Rubashov] put it so very well in Darkness at Noon:

" Satan . . .is thin, ascetic and a fanatical devotee of logic.  He reads
Machiavelli, Ignatius of Loyola, Marx and Hegel;  he is cold and unmerciful
to mankind, out of a kind of mathematical mercifulness . . .don't imagine
that he grinds his teeth and spits fire in his fury.  He shrugs his
shoulders;  he is thin and ascetic;  he has seen many weaken and creep out
of his ranks with pompous pretexts. . ."

Ivanov to Rubashov in Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon  [New York:
The Macmillan Company, 1941] pp. 149-150 -- and many subsequent

Now That's what I call a well-read Entity.

And given all of that -- and Tradition --  I'm putting my money on Satan's

Hunter [Hunterbear]

Devils Lake, N.D., teams lose Satans nickname, mascot
      Chuck Haga
      Star Tribune  [Minneapolis]

      Published Aug 27, 2002 SATA27

DEVILS LAKE, N.D. -- Reluctantly but by a 5-0 vote, the school board has
made its decision: Get thee behind us, Satan.

For more than 80 years, high school athletic teams from this town on the
shore of a lake named for the devil have been called the Satans. Years ago,
their mascot carried a pitchfork and roamed the sidelines in a red jumpsuit
with horns and a tail.

"God is on our side!" opponents yelled without fear of contradiction. Or,
"Go back to hell, Satans!"

But Friday night, a no-name Devils Lake football team will take the field
for its season opener. Cheerleaders are reworking chants to remove
references to fire and brimstone.

Principal Steve Heyd met with student leaders Monday, the first day of
classes, and urged them to treat the name change as a positive thing.

"They'll have the opportunity to come up with something new," he said.

Heyd said the school "won't get on someone's case for wearing a Satans
T-shirt or something" to voice an opinion on the controversy.

There may be "a natural grieving period," he said.

Most people in Devils Lake wanted to keep the Satans nickname for
tradition's sake, said Sue Kraft, family editor of the local newspaper. "No
bad has come of it," she said. "There's been no devil-worshipping."

But opponents, backed by members of the local ministerial association, said
the name and logo offended them. Some parents warned that they would pull
their children out of the school system rather than call on the devil to
intercede on behalf of a slow tailback.

"Some of the parents because of their religious beliefs were really against
the name," Kraft said. "They didn't like cheering for Satan, and I can
understand that."

Tom Mertens, a farmer and Satan (class of '80) led the push to drop the
name, which the school board agreed to do Aug. 19. He said he gave the
nickname little thought when he was a student, but a compromise 10 years ago
left the school with a wounded mascot that embarrassed people.

In voting 3-2 in 1992 to keep the nickname, school board members quietly
assured opponents that Satan -- word or symbol -- would not appear on school
walls, signboards or even uniforms, Mertens said.

"But if we're that ashamed of the name, why keep it?" he asked.

"It's not an appropriate name for a high school's teams, and there are many
people who are offended by it for religious reasons. But because of that
compromise, we can't embrace it -- yet it still divides our community."

Gary Krantz, a 1953 graduate of Devils Lake High School and owner of a
floral shop in the town of 7,800 people, collected 300 signatures on
petitions asking the board to keep the Satans name.

"We've had the name for 85 years," he said. "Before that, we were known as
the Speed Devils.

"There's no cult involved here. There's never been an uprising or
demonstration at any of the games. It's just a nickname."

Spirits in the lake

The city of Devils Lake was established in 1883, six years before Dakota
Territory was divided into the new states of North and South Dakota.

"At one time, Indian lore was that two tribes were fighting in the middle of
the lake, the water was red and there were spirits in the lake," Krantz
said. "The white settlers called it Devils Lake."

White officials also gave that name to the Indian tribe that remained by the
lake. But about 10 years ago, the Devils Lake Sioux Tribe changed its name
to Spirit Lake Nation.

Devils Lake residents who led the campaign to banish the Satans nickname may
have an "ultimate goal" of changing the name of the town, Krantz said.

"But Devils Lake is known internationally for walleye fishing and hunting,"
he said. "It would cost us so much. It's not going to happen."

Krantz, 67, said there was nothing dark or dangerous about the "satanic"
mascots the school has used over the years, including a Dennis the
Menace-type character with horns and another "Satan" that resembled the
cartoon figure Tweety Bird.

And the devil didn't always claim home-field advantage in Devils Lake. St.
Mary's, a parochial high school, closed years ago. Its teams were called the

Hunter Gray  [Hunterbear] (strawberry socialism)
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