Battle Over ‘Fighting Sioux’ Name Goes On
In the face of a controversy that has embroiled the entire state, the University of North Dakota will continue to use its contentious nickname, the “Fighting Sioux.”
Even so, many school fans are growing weary of the seven-year fight over a name many people think is demeaning to Native Americans.
This dispute began seven years ago, when the NCAA demanded that 19 member schools get rid of American Indian nicknames, logos and mascots it considered “hostile and abusive” to Indians.
Most changed their nicknames, though some – including the Florida State Seminoles and the Central Michigan Chippewas – got tribal permission to keep them.
North Dakota challenged the NCAA edict in court. In a settlement, the school agreed to begin retiring its nickname if it could not get permission to continue its use from two Sioux tribes in North Dakota. One tribe has endorsed the old name, but the other tribe opposes it.
So, UND officials have tried to retire the old nickname and logo. They removed references to “Fighting Sioux’ from the school’s logo, school websites, and Internet addresses.
However, supporters of the old nickname are not giving in. They’re circulating petitions calling for a statewide referendum on the issue.
Under state law, the petition process requires the school to keep the controversial name for the time being, pending the outcome of the referendum.
The NCAA says if the Fighting Sioux name isn’t retired for good, UND won’t be allowed to host championship events, and its athletes will be barred from wearing uniforms with the nickname or logo in post-season play. UND coaches say the sanctions could also cause problems in recruiting.
Many North Dakotans say they’re tired of the controversy.
One UND alum says “It’s getting pretty tiresome, even for a gung-ho nickname supporter.”
A former Fighting Sioux football player says he will always be proud of his school, with or without the old name and logo. He says “Put me in the camp that believes we have bigger fish to fry.”
What do you think? Is a controversial nickname something a state supported university should be spending time and taxpayer money defending? Don’t they have more important things to worry about?
Does the NCAA have any business telling colleges and universities what nicknames they can use?