March 2011 Archives

FORT TOTTEN, N.D. -- I was disappointed with the passing of HB 1263 in the Senate, but I wasn't surprised.

My disappointment was blunted by the fact that in a column two years ago, I predicted that North Dakota would not honor the agreement with NCAA if the state failed to get permission from both tribes to use the Fighting Sioux nickname.

And I truly believe we already have won the nickname war anyway.

The Standing Rock Tribal Council (on behalf of American Indians opposed to the name) heroically stood its ground and prevented the state board from fulfilling that part of the agreement. As honorable people, the members of the state board kept by their word and retired the nickname.

Their decision sparked two legal challenges, both of which were thrown out of court.

And so at that point, the logo war was over as far as the tribes were concerned. And the tribal people, thanks to Standing Rock, won the war. Passing HB 1263 is not going to change this fact.

Even so, the bill does make clear some disturbing things. For example, HB 1263 clearly shows the government going back on its word (remember, the North Dakota attorney general had negotiated the settlement with the NCAA).

In addition, the bill's passage tells us tribal people that there is no way we can win in the American political and justice system.

We can jump through the hoops the system puts in our way, and we can follow the system as required by law. But if we somehow win, then the losing players simply will change the rules or introduce a new law to undo our victory.

Not coincidentally, this also is the same tactic the government historically has used to break every treaty with tribes. It's a very effective tactic -- not an admirable, moral or honorable tactic, but an effective one.

And in addition, the passage of HB 1263 means non-Indians no longer can claim they are honoring us. Those claims have been exposed as disingenuous and misleading.

Instead, the reality that we all now see is brutally honest: It declares that "If we can't get our way through false claims of honoring you, we will take what we want anyway."

Strangely, this honesty is better than having to listen to those disingenuous claims of being honored. At least we know where people really stand.

This "honesty" of HB 1263 creates some serious issues for pro-logo American Indians. For although they stood up and testified, "We are being honored by the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo," they now know they were being deceived.

This reminds me of the movie "Geronimo the Legend." At the beginning of the movie, an Apache agrees to scout for the U.S. Army. He is a loyal and brave scout throughout the movie. When Geronimo was captured, how do you think the loyal scout was honored?

He was thrown onto the train with Geronimo and sent to Florida.

Our ancestors believed lying and dishonesty were evil, and they put to death anyone who lied too much because of the problems dishonesty creates. The dishonest reasons given to use and to keep the Fighting Sioux name not only created problems for American Indian students attending UND, but also the dishonesty's evil now has infected all of North Dakota.

The passage of HB 1263 is a manifestation of this evil.

In closing, stealing is a form of dishonesty, too. In 1887, the Dawes Act was passed to legally steal our land. Today, HB 1263 allows North Dakota to legally steal our name.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from March 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

January 2011 is the previous archive.

April 2011 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.