- On Friday, April 17, Christina Torres and Cyclista Zine launched an online petition via change.org, calling for Life Time Fitness to change the name of the Dirty Kanza gravel race.
- The campaign contended that the name was a racial epithet, meaning “dirty Indian.”
- On Monday, April 20, Life Time released signed by both the Life Time/Dirty Kanza promotional team and the Kaw Nation, stating that the name is not derogatory in nature and will not change.
Life Time—after a weekend of battling online pressure, coming from of the Dirty Kanza gravel race—has announced that the name of the Dirty Kanza gravel race will remain as is.
Some have contended that the name Dirty Kanza is a racial slur against Native Americans meaning “dirty Indian.” But the statement, released in conjunction with the Kaw Nation of Kansas, firmly states that the name is not derogatory and will not be changed.
, signed by more than 1,200 people as of this writing, charged that “The Kaw Nation of Kansas, now of Oklahoma, has survived adversity and today is a federally-recognized self-governing tribe seeking to recover its cultural heritage and land. To preface Kanza people with “Dirty” shows a disconnect of the history of place, violence, and colonization that has been justified with terms like ‘dirty’ that is connected to America’s Legacy of anti-Indigenous violence.”
三九电影网 plainly states their disagreement:
“This open letter is in direct response to recent activities on social media and elsewhere, which are designed to bring discredit to the Dirty Kanza event and force a change to the event name. Statements recently shared by certain individuals and media outlets have been ill-informed at best, and outright untruthful at worst. These statements and publications were made without any prior contact with either Life Time or the Kaw Nation. Although attempts were made to make these actions appear to be in the interest of the Kaw Nation, the fact is they were not made on behalf of, or in cooperation with, the Kaw Nation. Life Time and the Kaw Nation are proud of our relationship, which is built upon mutual respect, dignity, and integrity.”
三九电影网The letter goes on to explain that the original co-founders wanted a name that would be evocative of what the event is and where it takes place.
“‘Dirty’ is not intended to be a negative term, but rather a badge of honor. We play in the dirt, and we are proud of it. Don’t come to this event wearing white shoes and white socks... because they won’t stay that way. This event is raw. It’s rugged. It’s gritty. And it’s going to take a large dose of grit to complete the challenge.”
When originally naming the race, the co-founders had considered other names, including simply Flint Hills or Kansas to describe the “where” of the race. They settled on “Kanza” to pay homage to the the Kanza Prairie, to its rich history, and to all things associated with the region—including the Kaw Nation, according to the letter.
This was not the first time some have called for the grandfather of gravel events to change its name. Others have over the years, particularly when Land Run changed its name to last year after reflecting on the indigenous history of the original Oklahoma Land Run.
三九电影网Jim Cummins, Life Time’s Chief Gravel Officer and one of the founders of Dirty Kanza, had a face-to-face meeting with three members of the Kaw Nation Tribal Council, including Lynn Williams, Chairwoman of the Tribal Council, at the Kaw Nation Headquarters on February 26, 2019 to discuss the origin, nature, and name of this infamously arduous ultra-distance event.
Ultimately, the two organizations agreed that the name should remain as is.
“Life Time and the Kaw Nation are proud to stand alongside one another as Dirty Kanza pursues its mission to provide life-enriching experiences to event participants and to build community. Together, we endeavor to exemplify respect for one another and all people, regardless of race, ethnicity or gender. We hope everyone will join us in this effort.”