August 22, 2008

No win-win for Fighting Sioux

VIEWPOINT:  Why tribal leaders keep saying 'no'Becker calls for handshakes and a “win-win” solution. He expresses “wonder” that tribal leaders won’t vote the way he wants them to. At the same time, he tosses a political and legal threat at the tribes: By the way (he says in effect), you don’t actually have legal rights to the “Sioux” name, so we will take it if we want it.

And he wonders why tribal leaders “are not even willing to sit down at the table” with him?

In fact, tribal leaders have sat down at many tables—starting first with the table of tribal sovereignty. Council members have dealt with strong disagreement about the issue among tribal members. UND’s logo conflict has become a lightning rod for conflict in reservation communities. At the same time, tribes have contended with backdoor efforts to essentially buy the logo regardless of the other social and educational costs of its continued use.

But unlike Becker, these elected tribal leaders also have listened carefully to concerns raised by UND students and tribal alumni, as well as by American Indian educators and civil rights leaders around the country. And unlike too many people playing regional power politics with this controversy, they have placed educational matters and racial equity at the center of their deliberations.

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