Sioux Surrender

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The University of North Dakota is between a rock and a hard place.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has ordered the school to drop its “Fighting Sioux” moniker and accompanying regalia. The state of North Dakota demands that its flagship university retain the nickname and iconic Indian-head logo. If UND satisfies the NCAA, it breaks state law. If UND obeys the law, the school faces athletic sanctions.

A meeting between the NCAA, state officials, and university administrators will take place on August 12. Three days later, the NCAA may initiate sanctions.

The August 15 deadline looms. Whatever the decision, the university will invoke the wrath of a powerful entity.

“The NCAA’s Native American mascot policy remains in effect, and we stand ready to assist the University of North Dakota with its implementation of the policy,” the collegiate athletic sanctioning body announced last month. “If the University of North Dakota continues to use the nickname and logo past the August 15 deadline due to state law, it will be subject to the parameters of the policy. This means the university could not host any championships or use the nickname and logo at any championship events.”

The NCAA bans logos and nicknames it deems “hostile and abusive” from appearing in postseason contests. Since the policy’s implementation in 2005, the nicknames targeted as “hostile and abusive” to the ethnicities they ostensibly pay homage to have been uniformly monikers and logos that reference Native Americans. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the Holy Cross Crusaders, the University of Southern California Trojans, and scores of other team names that conjure up bellicose ethnic imagery have escaped the NCAA’s blacklist.

Efforts to ditch the “Fighting Sioux” predate the NCAA policy. In the midst of building a $100-million-dollar arena (which opened in 2001) for the school, alumnus Ralph Englestad threatened to cease construction because of the possibility that the school’s president would kill off the nickname. “I do not understand where one person gets the authority to make this kind of a decision on behalf of all alumni, students, the city of Grand Forks and the state of North Dakota,” Englestad wrote then UND President Charkes Kupchella. He bluntly continued, “It’s a good thing that you are an educator because you are a man of indecision, and if you were a businessman, you would not succeed, you would be broke immediately.” To ensure the Fighting Sioux’s survival, Englestad directed thousands of difficult-to-remove Indian-head logos to be inscribed, imprinted, emblazoned, and embossed throughout the pricey sports complex. With pressure relieved from the death of UND’s most generous donor, and under added pressure from the NCAA, the North Dakota board of higher education voted to drop the name and logo in the spring of 2010. This prompted the state legislature to pass a law retaining the Fighting Sioux name.

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  • Jim

    Do they Erasure Men wish to obliterate the names of the Indians from all things and there by create the image of an all white America and cause America to forget that the Indians even existed here?

    Sounds like white supremacy to me.

    I say fire the rascals

  • Puckster

    I grew up in North Dakota. I lived in Bismarck and Jamestown and we played Cowboys and Indians.

    Those of us that were the Indians fought proudly. The Cowboys didn't win all the time and we never thought of ourselves as less competent a warrior if we were Indians.

    I grew up with Cowboys and Indians as a part of American history and we didn't disrespect either side.

    "When queried if sports teams should cease using Indian nicknames, greater than four-fifths of Native Americans responded “no.” The Spirit Lake Sioux, to cite one example, actually sued North Dakota’s board of higher education to block the body from jettisoning the Fighting Sioux nickname."

    Talk about an ironic way of disrespect by the NCAA.

    However, I'm sure a very small group of Native American activists have their ear.

    • Rifleman

      I always liked being the Indian, though I didn't know at the time that I had Cherokee and Creek blood.

  • Tziona

    How many Native Americans, Sioux in particular, attend UND? How many of them are in the university's sports teams?

    Regardless of whether the name is offensive or not, unless the university and its sports teams comprise a majority of Native American students, this is simply a case of misrepresentation. No need to invoke politically correct anti-hate law, it's just a question of truth vs. falsehood. Does UND represent the Sioux Nation? If not, they should not be using their name. BTW, I'm not against them using it, if the Sioux are OK with it, but it'd be nice to think UND had sufficient Native Americans in the student ranks to justify it.

    • Solinkaa

      UND is an institution of higher education, no? It's not there to "represent" any particular group of people, it is there as a higher education provider with admission policies that, I would imagine, do not include a criterium, "Native Americans need not apply." It may be "nice" to think that UND has "sufficient" Native Americans in the student ranks – but "sufficient" as defined by whom? An unelected government official? Does it need to reflect the make-up of the local population regardless of academic standards, because it would be "nice"? I hesitate to call this an intellectually sound argument.

      • Tziona

        "[UND]'s not there to "represent" any particular group of people" fine, no problem with that, but that being the case, perhaps it shouldn't use a name that DOES represent a group of people.

    • StephenD

      What a ridiculous straw man argument. Does Notre Dame have “a majority” of Fighting Irish students? Not just Irish but Fighting Irishand…how many of them are on sports teams? Foolish
      Justify using a name? By what standard? Your choice of the number of students is as arbitrary as using the name because the school is where the Sioux were from. Seriously, this is an inane issue and a complete waste of the NCAA’s time.

    • aspacia

      LOL, many refuse to attend university regardless of the grants and perk given to NA.

  • Malcolm

    You will notice that sports teams never give themselves names such as the Creampuffs, or the Pansies. Teams tend to choose names that evoke strength, courage, and determination. The Indian mascots of sports teams are emblematic of the white man's respect for the Indian. Because, although they said a lot of nasty things about the Indians, nobody ever accused them of being weak or cowardly.

  • DogWithoutSlippers

    I use to play Cowboys and Indians as a kid growing up in England. Yes, we had six-shooters too – and we could point them at each other and shoot a cap! The names of school and college sports teams evoke courage, comaraderie, an ability to endure hardships of nature and battle. So what better description than the use of Indian and animal names? There are no other substitutes.

  • Rifleman

    I seem to remember them also going after Ole Miss for their Rebel mascot, so the NCAA isn't consistent, and are just natural Aholes. The Seminoles proudly told the NCAA what they could do with their PC objections. It’s shameful that I’m more proud of what little Indian blood I have than some full-bloods.

  • alan g

    They should call themselves the PCers

    • johnnywoods

      How about the "Fighting Whiteys"?I always liked that one. Some people really need to get a life as they seem to have too much time on their hands.

  • BLJ

    Ask Custer and his men about the Sioux indians. They were a ferocious tribe who were skilled warriors.

    I have a good friend who is a Marquette grad. To this day he refuses to call them the Golden Eagles. They are the Warriors to him.

  • Damien

    I fail to see how their logo is offensive in any way. It maybe offensive to some people, but everything is. There's something about it that is derogatory towards Native Americans. Its just showing a native American in traditional dress. There's nothing racist about it.

  • patriotwork

    The NCAA is what is offensive. They are running on the PC model with too much power. I would be glad to see the NCAA's demise. I hope to see it. Stupid overeducated liberals in the driver's seat; moral posturing, and they don't seem to have enough real integrity to fill a thimble. A doll's thimble.

  • aspacia

    To name your team with an ethnic group's name is a sign of respect. For example, the Buffalo Soldiers would be a great name for most Black University teams.

  • Kiwez

    I heard that, Patriotwork.
    If the native Americans don't have a problem with it, let it be. If the NCAA’s mascot policy people want to start bullying "The Fighting Irish" about their monicker 1st, then I would have a little more respect for their misguided opinion. Otherwise it smacks of trying to erase more of their heritage. Now, that is offensive. Besides I quite enjoy the team names that they came up with in another era. There are only so many animal names that can inspire sports greatness. No offense to the Oregon Ducks, ect.

  • Alex Kovnat

    I have been saying for years, with regard to automotive regulations and other matters, that this country would be better off if most of those who pride themselves on being activists were to seek the resolution of their personal problems on a psychiatrists couch, not in the public domain.

    Political correctness addicts who demand that Indian names not be used for collegiate sports teams, even if the specific Native American group involved does not object or even is proud their name is so used, are an example of this.

  • Amused

    much ado about nothing

  • Hannah Katz

    How about they change their nickname to the Fighting Engines? Use a motor with legs as the mascot. And the women could be the Fighting Sues, complete with blonde pigtails. Hey, how come the San Diego State Aztecs got off the hook?