October 14, 2011
North Dakota University System
10th Floor, State Capitol
600 East Boulevard Ave, Dept. 215
Bismarck, ND 58505-0230
Mr. Grant Shaft,
We, the signatories of this letter (Spirit Lake tribal members) speak on behalf of the three 300+ tribal members who want to see the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo retired.
Over 300 hundred Spirit Lake tribal members voted against UND's continued use of the Sioux name. We believe that number has now grown, possibly doubled since the referendum on the name.
We do not agree with and we are embarrassed by the threats our fellow tribal members are making on behalf of the Spirit Lake Nation. The Committee for Understanding and Respect's indiscriminate threats neither increase understanding or respect for our Dakota way of life nor do they speak for the hundreds of Spirit Lake tribal members who want to see the name retired.
Our (Sioux) traditional values are courage, honesty, generosity, respect, and perseverance. The value of generosity is most apparent in our traditional giveaways and ceremonies. Gifts are freely given with no strings attached with the understanding that the recipient will use the gift as needed. For example, a person is gifted a horse and he/she can now use or even sell the horse without consulting the person who provided the gift. After all, the horse now belongs to the new owner. We have never witnessed or heard of a Sioux who follows our traditional values provide a gift to someone and then try to direct how they use their gift.
We understand our (Sioux) way of giving may be different from another's way of giving and we respect cultural differences. For example, the Ralph Englestad Arena was "given" to UND, yet ownership and management are controlled by the Ralph Englestad Foundation rather than the University of North Dakota (UND). We do not understand that type of giving, but if that's their way, that's their way.
For arguments sake, let us say there was a legitimate pipe ceremony by Standing Rock's ancestors giving the "Sioux" name to UND. The ceremony and the "gift" of a name would fall under cultural norms as I have previously explained. This would mean that a Sioux who lives according to the above traditional values would NOT intercede if UND decided to retire or give the name away. No true traditional Sioux would dream of not respecting the pipe that was used when the ceremony was conducted.
In closing, we can't think of a reason why the SBHE would need permission to retire the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo from anyone considering the ND Supreme court ruling in the SBHE's favor [Davidson v. State (2010)]. However, just in case, the SBHE is seeking permission to retire the name we say this: for what it's worth, on behalf of the hundreds of Spirit Lakers, on behalf of the thousands of Sioux, and on behalf of all the Sioux Nations that issued resolutions, stating their opposition to UND keeping the name, we hereby give you permission to retire the name.