Lee Ann Eastman says she thinks the Sisseton Redmen mascot has been a controversial issue since 1930. Tuesday night, a fight transpired, and Eastman thinks the reason for it was because of some t-shirts protesting the mascot.
The fight was between a Tiospa Zina Tribal School student, and a Sisseton student. The fight broke out in a bathroom in Sisseton during an eighth grade girls’ basketball game.
Monge Cha Eastman was one of the boys in the fight, and he claims he was the victim. Eastman says it all started because he was helping his sisters hand out some t-shirts that said “not your mascot” on the front with a crossed out Redmen mascot on the front.
"I was like handing out my shirts because I was proud of my sisters. When I was handing them to the Redmen students, they took offense and were like ‘oh they are just trying to make us mad,’” Monge said.
Monge said he had to go to the bathroom, and when he did, he was surrounded by kids from Sisseton.
"I got done washing my hands and a whole bunch of students came in. They wanted to fight,” he said.
Then a fight broke out, and someone managed to get video of it.
"He cheap shotted me, just started blasting on me. I defended myself," Monge said.
In the fight Monge said he hurt his hip.
While both boys were punished by their schools for the fight, Monge’s mother, Lee Ann, thinks he was the victim.
"This was planned out, you know, my son was just the target," she said.
Despite the fight Monge's cousins, sisters and classmates will continue selling shirts. The girls say they don't necessarily want the Redmen mascot to go away, they just want students to be more educated about what the mascot really means.
"They say it is honoring us. The way I think they could honor us is by learning our Dakota language and having Native American history classes," Fidelity Eastman said. Fidelity is one of the girls selling the shirts.
"These young ladies and men going to TZ (Tiospa Zina) are our future leaders, and we need to respect what they are doing," Monge’s great-grandma Kay Bursheim said.
These students at Tiospa Zina will have another shirt selling and forum explaining why the mascot offends them Feb.21. The time and place has yet to be announced.
As for the fight, Sisseton superintendent Stephen Schulte said on his end the has been taken care of according to school policy. He points out that this is something all schools deal with no matter where you are.