Lawmakers supported nickname but snubbed tribes
The bill seeks to legislate the permanent use of the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo by UND’s intercollegiate athletic teams. The bill also authorizes the North Dakota attorney general to file a “federal antitrust claim” against the NCAA if the association takes “any action to penalize the University of North Dakota for using the Fighting Sioux nickname or logo.”
This bill may best be understood in relation to other bills taken up by the North Dakota House and Senate in this legislative session. We’re thinking of bills such as:
** SB 2130, which sought to improve the academic achievement, graduation rates, and college and work force readiness of American Indian students.
** SB 2051, which would enhance penalties for conviction related to discrimination and assault involving a hate crime.
** HCR 3004, which would study Indian education issues, “including a fair and equitable allocation of all state and federal education funding.”
** SB 2353, which provided for “state and political subdivision consultation and coordination with Indian tribal governments.”
** SB 2359, which would ensure that county commissioners provide at least one open polling place on a reservation on election day.
** SB 2339, which would appropriate $150,000 for programs to preserve American Indian languages.
All of these bills failed along party lines. But HB 1263, which seeks to legislate the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo, passed.
What this legislative activity tells North Dakotans is that the logo bill is not about honoring American Indians, as supporters of the legislation claim.
True honoring would come in the form of passing legislation that supports the educational aspirations of American Indian youth, that ensures punishment of those convicted of hate crimes, that reinforces the voting rights of tribal communities and that preserves American Indian cultural heritage.
So, the “Fighting Sioux” bill is not about honoring American Indians. It is about honoring a collegiate tradition that has resulted in dishonorable activities at athletic events, disrespect toward tribal communities and maltreatment of Indian people both on and off the UND campus.
On behalf of the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition, we call on the state Senate to engage in an act of true honoring by voting “no” on the logo legislation.
For more on the subject, see Indian and White Guy Can't Mention Indians and "Fighting Sioux" = "Obnoxious Baboons."