The Fight Drags On

It was with great interest that we watched the events unfold at Standing Rock; events that led to a petition that was submitted to their tribal chairman. As soon as it became apparent that pro-logo supporters at Standing Rock were carrying a petition to put the Fighting Sioux logo and mascot to a vote, those of us here at Spirit Lake, who oppose the use of the logo by Ralph Engelstad Arena (REA), decided to collect signatures for a petition of our own. This is something we had planned on and talked about for the last year.

Our petition expressly requests that the Spirit Lake Tribal Council hold another election to determine if the majority of Spirit Lake tribal members are still in favor of Ralph Engelstad Arena's use of the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo. We haven't been idle this past year. Since the last vote, we have been working hard to educate tribal members on how the Fighting Sioux nickname is used as an avenue for racist behavior. We know we have been changing a lot of minds.

When we presented our petition to tribal members, we showed examples of the disrespectful uses and images that always accompany the use of the logo, albeit, in the background, just out of sight of most of the public. The pictures that helped us the most were pictures of a sorority party where UND students dressed up in costumes that mimicked Native Americans, costumes that were extremely disrespectful toward Native Americans. They used gunnysacks as dresses, red paint to paint handprints on their bodies. One picture showed them in a sexually suggestive pose. ... and, NO, this was not 20 years ago, but only a few years ago.

We had hoped we would not have to carry a petition against the Fighting Sioux logo and mascot because there is too much division over the name here on Spirit Lake. The mention of the nickname often starts an argument between opposing sides. One young tribal member who was carrying the petition for us had an older lady tear the petition up in front of her face and throw it in the garbage. It was retrieved from the garbage, taped together, and will be among those signatures we turn in with our petition.

On the other hand, the ease and quickness with which we were able to collect 300 signatures was heartening. We heard positive comments to the effect, "If you had shown these pictures the last time, we would not have voted for the logo." They awaken to the fact that they are not mascots and will vote to reverse the prior decision made by our council. We will present our petition with its required number of signatures to the tribal council within the next few weeks.

Our (Spirit Lake Nation) constitution requires that a petition must have 20% of the number of people who voted in the last election sign the petition before the tribal council can accept it. There were approximately 1100 tribal members who voted in the last election. Therefore, we needed approximately 220 signatures. We started a couple of weeks ago, and we now have approximately 300 signatures.

Nickname supporters may be winning some battles, like having tribal members get petitions in favor of the Sioux nickname, and filing lawsuits. We may not be able to match you in resources, but we are more than a match for you in determination. Our determination partly stems from our desire to protect our youth and other Native Americans, who attend or will attend the University of North Dakota, from the racist behavior that always accompanies the use of the Fighting Sioux logo and mascot.

In closing, we want to make it perfectly clear to the Ralph Engelstad Arena Foundation and other nickname supporters: we will never rest until the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo is retired from the Ralph Engelstad Arena. Right now our tribal constitution gives us tribal members the right to petition to the tribal government. We will exercise that right, and will continue to petition until we get rid of the nickname. There is no doubt in our minds, we will win the war by attrition - we will keep fighting until you are worn down.


About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dr. Erich Longie published on April 1, 2010 5:22 PM.

"The Tough-Talking, No-Bullshit Genius of Chief Clarence Louie" was the previous entry in this blog.

Promoting Cultural Diversity is the next entry in this blog.

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