May 15, 2009

UND may retire Fighting Sioux

The University of North Dakota may be forced to retire its Fighting Sioux nickname and logo under a ruling by the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education.

The board voted unanimously Thursday during a meeting at Dickinson State University to retire the Fighting Sioux as of Oct. 1 unless the Spirit Lake and Standing Rock Sioux tribes vote to approve the nickname before the deadline, the Dickinson (N.D.) Press reported Friday.

Tom Douple, president of the Summit League, an NCAA Division I athletic conference, said the University of North Dakota's application for affiliation with the conference would not be accepted until the controversy surrounding the nickname is resolved.

I judge what we did today as the best compromise that could both address the separate issue of league affiliation with the tribe's interest in preceding toward a vote, said board member Grant Shaft, who heads the board's fact-finding committee for the issue.

The Spirit Lake Tribe voted 764-371 last month to approve the use of the name, but the final decision is up to the Tribal Council.

Meanwhile, Ron His Horse is Thunder, Tribal Council chairman for the Standing Rock Tribe, said the council has repeatedly voted against the use of the nickname.

Racism isn't going to change overnight, but by eliminating the symbol, you eliminate for the next generation any worth that is associated with it, the chairman said. Ladies and gentlemen, you have before you an opportunity for greatness. An opportunity to make history -- make history -- and take North Dakota into the forefront on race relations.