This is getting embarrassing! The UND nickname debate keeps getting more and more out of hand as North Dakotans continue to refuse to accept reality. State lawmakers are anxious to grab a few headlines as they proclaim their plans to circumvent the wishes of the same people they say they are attempting to “honor and respect.” Everyone has an opinion, and they keep screaming it out loud, again and again, and again!
The majority of the state’s residents would like to keep “The Fighting Sioux” as the nickname for the athletic teams representing the state’s second largest university. There is a minority of people, however, who feel the name should be changed. These two groups have been arguing and fighting for decades, and neither side has been willing to compromise. The minority feels they have the moral high ground, and the majority feels they have, well, the majority, and that’s all that really matters.
The NCAA entered into the melee in favor of change, and the majority of North Dakotans were outraged. “How dare they tell us what to do” was screamed from the concourses of The Ralph Engelstad Arena, followed by “We’ll sue them for interfering!” Money was raised by UND alumni to fight this perceived injustice, and the North Dakota Attorney General himself filed the lawsuit against the NCAA.
The Courts heard the arguments, and with the Wisdom of Solomon himself, they uttered their verdict: If the University can obtain permission from the State’s two Sioux tribes, they can continue to use the nickname without consequence. If the Sioux people fail to give their blessing, the NCAA sanctions would prove to be legal and could be carried out. This made perfect sense! If the tribes gave their approval, the nickname opponents wouldn’t have a leg to stand on, and they would have to discontinue their opposition. If the tribes failed to give their support, the University would have to change their nickname or face the consequences. Both side had to put up or shut up!
One Sioux tribe gave overwhelming support for continued use of the nickname, while the other seemed indifferent. The Elders declined to give their approval even though several tribal members renounced the Elders and proclaimed that the Elders didn’t represent the majority’s opinion. It seemed the same mixed feelings that divided the UND community were also present at Standing Rock; unilateral support was not forthcoming.
This should be the end of the debate! A fair and reasonable agreement was reached between the State of North Dakota and the NCAA. The University failed to gain the approval of both tribes as they agreed to do. They now must change the nickname or accept the sanctions leveled against them by the NCAA.
The University of North Dakota has chosen the high road and has begun retiring the nickname and logo. “The Fighting Sioux” is an honorable name, but it belongs to our state’s tribes, and it is theirs to do with what they choose. The University can abide with their decision: Why can’t our state’s leaders?