The Case for ‘Denver Pioneers’

As a key voice in Pioneer Nation, LetsGoDU promised we’d have more to say about the DU Native Student Association’s (“NSA”) recent decision to create a “NoMorePios” campaign in an attempt to sever DU from its 92-year old identity, tradition, and nickname, the Pioneers.

LetsGoDU has always believed in the power of Pioneer tradition to link everyone in the University of Denver Pioneer family. Accordingly, we’ve developed the following 90-second video that explains why “Pioneers” works for DU. We offer this video in the spirit of positive dialogue, learning and inclusion, and we support substantive efforts to make Native American students and culture a more integral part of the DU community.

While it’s impossible to share our entire case in a 90-second video, we hope you accept the spirit in which this has been made and open your minds and hearts to other, more meaningful efforts, to bring the University community together. Our premise remains – the best way to unite us is through inclusion and celebrating the best in us – not taking things away.

In the meantime, we encourage to you watch this video and share it (Twitter, Facebook, email) with everyone you know.

Go Pioneers!

17 thoughts on “The Case for ‘Denver Pioneers’”

  1. The #NoMorePios Campaign encapsulates everything that is wrong with America today. A disenfranchised group lashes out at a fictional cartoon character. A few well-meaning, but ill informed students take the bait & jump on the bandwagon without considering or caring about the long-term ramifications. And here we are.

    Instead of building school spirit or uniting the student body, they focus instead on dividing, without ever offering positive solutions, ideas or input that would build the DU Brand.


  2. This video takes the argument to a higher level than just mascots.

    This about our identity – who we are and what we care about.

    The video is very well done, and explains the situation well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It'[s good as far as it goes but needs an additional paragraph or two on all of the positive achievements of our pioneer predecessors which out weight the negatives by many orders of magnitude. One being they founded our school.


  4. Valid point. The Pioneers certainly do have a lot of achievements and a simple glance anywhere in Denver will remind you of who built the place.

    The founding of the school, city, and state is referenced in the video but that point is a bit soft-pedaled, probably on purpose.

    My guess is that the video makers wanted this opening video to have a much gentler spirit of goodwill, inclusion and potential collaboration toward the NSA and their followers, and I agree with that direction. Rubbling Western Pioneers’ achievements in their faces is probably not the best way to get to solutions…


  5. Just out of curiosity… are you planning on just dropping this video here or are you hoping to actually participate in a broader dialogue with the university? It’s a nice pat on the back for your viewpoint, but if you engaged on this issue as respectfully as this video has laid it out, you might find the students and faculty involved to be receptive.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Anon, thanks for your question. We have spent the last year reaching out to the administration and student government with no response. We would be pleased to participate in the discussion. Since Nick and I started to run LetsGoDU several years ago, our charter was to build school spirit and bring people together (and have some fun along the way). If we are asked to participate in the discussion, we will make ourselves available to any group, large or small, to bring our community together.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Very well done and a fair presentation. I still don’t get why Pioneer is something to dislike. Come on guys, Pioneers are all that follows and so much more: men of medicine and research who find cures to diseases, inventors, new art creators, social injustice activists, NASA, musicians, athletes breaking color and gender barriers. I’m certain the powers that run DU know being a Pioneer has mostly favorable connotations. It’s a proud and strong school nickname. Without Pioneers, we are a society without intellect, inspiration, and no moral compass.


  8. Dunker, you bring up a great point.

    All those things you mentioned are inherent in the Pioneer name. And even more aligned with DU and its long history, since our school was actually founded by Pioneers. Unlike say CC, for example, who ripped off the Princeton Tigers’ nickname back in 1899, since there are SO many Tigers in Colorado Springs…


  9. Good video and good message. I’m not an alum, so I can’t offer that perspective, but I have been following this story and related ones over the years. NSA strikes me as a group with tunnel vision, thinking myopically about this topic rather than trying to understand what exactly a Pioneer is and could be. Meanwhile, the DU administration seems content to walk this tightrope between being sensitive to what NSA says/feels and trying not to piss off a huge alumni base, most of whom love and embrace the Pioneer name. The only way to make progress here is to bring people together for thoughtful and respectful discussion. Then again, that requires leadership on both sides.


  10. I think NSA is both sincere and somewhat naive.

    They are sincere in that they are fighting for what they believe is their cultural respect, and they think the best way to get there is to tear down those things that they believe are offensive to them – it’s not good enough to have an Indigenous People’s Day to celebrate their heritage- they also have to tear down and eliminate Columbus Day at the same time. Raise one culture up while denigrating another in the process- getting even, instead of getting along.

    What they don’t quite get, and this is the naive part, is that what seems offensive to them is also the very culture and pride of other people. The Boone controversy of 2013 will be a picnic compared to the level of public controversy DU will face if there is any attempt on DU’s part to move away from the Pioneer nickname…


    1. Yep, although I would say somewhat naive is an understatement. There are literally thousands upon thousands of different contexts in which someone could be a pioneer. Yet NSA focuses on only one. Good luck getting folks on your side when you only see what you want to see. That’s a tough sell.


  11. It must be exhausting to go through life constantly imaging the worst in people, and operating under the assumption that people do things and say things with the worst intention. I enjoyed the video but I am afraid that it is preaching to the choir.


  12. The fundamental strategy of Liberal/Progressives is to look for imperfections in policies, positions, beliefs etc. Nothing is perfect so there is ALWAY something to criticize. They attack that imperfection while ignoring the greater good.
    Welcome to the political left.


  13. While there are certain left wing vs. right wing elements to the Pioneer issue, I don’t believe it’s binary, either.

    Plenty of liberal-thinking people support the Pioneers, and I think having those people supporting the cause is critical to getting the NSA and its supporters to see the issue is not an “us vs them” issue.

    The video used the very same language we often see from progressives to frame the issues, and I think we all need to be very thoughtful in how we approach it…


  14. Wow- Been watching movie promo’s for the movie “Black Panther” today. I didn’t know how blind and oppressed I was until I read this article. My life has meaning now…


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