University of North Dakota Nickname Supporters Fight to Preserve Name
April 17, 2010
Supporters of the University of North Dakota's Fighting Sioux nickname and logo aren't giving up without a fight.
Hours after the state Board of Higher Education decided to retire the Fighting Sioux name last Thursday, fans of the nickname emerged in full backlash mode. The outcry includes efforts to cut alumni giving, a petition to reinstate the nickname, protest marches on the university including one Friday night, and even talk of legal action.
The reaction has spilled off campus to the nearby Spirit Lake Sioux reservation, where tribal members last year voted overwhelmingly to retain the nickname and logo.
"Almost all the comments I'm hearing are from people who are sad. They feel deceived," said Eunice Davidson, a member of the Spirit Lake Sioux tribe. "I really do feel the board didn't listen to the Sioux people."
Mrs. Davidson said the Committee for Understanding and Respect, a tribal organization, is weighing its options, including another legal challenge. The group had sued to stop the board from reaching a decision on the nickname until Nov. 30, which was the deadline in an agreement between the state and the National Collegiate Athletics Association.
The state Supreme Court ruled against the group April 8, saying it didn't have standing to bring the lawsuit. Within hours, the North Dakota Board of Higher Education, which happened to be holding its monthly meeting that day, moved to implement its May 2009 decision to retire the Fighting Sioux.