I was surprised to find an article about the local/regional disagreements over the University of North Dakota keeping its "Fighting Sioux" team name and logo in a national online news outlet.( Human Events) On March 23, a piece by author Valerie Richardson told the story of a group from the ND Sioux nation taking a stand for keeping the nickname that others say they despise and say is demeaning….especially the national organization…I guess it is the NCAA.
Eunice Davidson, a member of the Spirit Lake Sioux, was quoted in Richardson’s article. "Whenever I hear ‘Fighting Sioux’ I’ve always been proud of it. People who say they doin’t like it–I don’t understand that. To seems to me to be a real positive thing."
Some North Dakotans, the article continues, do not see it from Davidson’s viewpoint. The North Dakota State Board of Higher Education have agreed that they are sick of the tribal nickname for UND teams. I think that many on the faculty of UND are in agreement with the Board of Education also. Plus many other members of Sioux groups in ND oppose the nickname and call it a humiliating thing, a negative reference to their people. The debate in North Dakota has dragged on for five years since the NCAA ruled that all Indian mascot names should be done away with. The NCAA ruled that any college or university retaining their Indian mascot names would be ineligible for post-season play in all sports apparently. But this ruling has not been carried out to the degree it sounded like when it first was made. Florida’s "Seminoles" still enter the field of play with a person dressed as a Seminole warrior mounted on a Seminole war horse, in full war regalia. The University of Utah still has its team name, the "Utes" who are the original people who lived in Utah….an Indian nation. I think there are more, as well, but I cannot say for sure which ones still used Indian mascot names for their sports team. he NCAA has obviously backed down in some cases.
The "Fighting Sioux" of North Dakota seem to have been singled out for special attention from the NCAA. An agreement between the NCAA and the state gives UND until November 30, 2010 to reach a decision about the "Fighting Sioux" team name. To keep the nickname, there are two Sioux tribes who must give their Okay to the name…..the Spirit Lake Sioux and the Standing Rock Sioux. The Spirit Lake tribal council has already sanctioned the Fighting Sioux name after 67% of tribe voted in favor of it. But the Standing Rock tribe is an entirely different matter. Under the leadership of Ron His Horse Is Thunder, who is a staunch opponent of the nickname for the UND teams….that tribal council has refused to okay the nickname.
Now there is a legal battle with the Spirit Lake tribe trying to get an extension on the November 30 deadline because a new Standing Rock chairman, Charles Murphy (who favors the Fighting Sioux name) will probably not be able to have the vote from his tribal members before the November deadline. The Spirit Lake lawsuit has gone all the way to the ND Supreme Court who was supposed to rule by March 23. Does anyone know of the outcome of that ruling? I have not seen anything about it.
The State Education Board has vowed to keep up the battle to eliminate the nickname and along with the American Indian Movement, are determined to kill the Fighting Sioux name forever.
I wonder what the UND teams will be named if this battle is won by the opponents? UND alumni have already threatened to withdraw all financial support for the university if the name is changed. The repercussions either way the decision goes will have huge consequences no matter what is the final result on this troublesome issue that has been raging for half a dozen years already.