As a Herald story noted Friday, the pro-logo individual(s) did not do well in the tribal elections. This debunks the claim by non-Indians and Indians who are not enrolled at the Rock that Standing Rock is strongly pro-logo.
By: Erich Longie,By Erich Longie
FORT TOTTEN, N.D. -- A lot of attention has been given to the letters written to the Big Sky Conference by my fellow tribal members and their Committee for Understanding and Respect.
What got much less attention were the results of the tribal election held at Standing Rock on Oct. 6. But the outcome of that election had more potential to influence the outcome of the nickname and logo issue than the letters written by my fellow Spirit Lakers.
As a Herald story noted Friday, the pro-logo individual(s) did not do well in the tribal elections ("Nickname supporter loses bid for tribal seat," Page A1).
This debunks the claim by non-Indians and Indians who are not enrolled at the Rock that Standing Rock is strongly pro-logo.
Many pro-logo people were hoping the outcome of the election at Standing Rock would result in a vote on the Fighting Sioux nickname. (In my view, that's the real reason House Majority Leader Al Carlson went back on his word shortly after his meeting with NCAA.)
So, with the elections at Standing Rock now over, have we taken another step toward the retirement of a symbol of conquest commonly known as the Fighting Sioux logo? Maybe.
But how many times has each side thought it had victory in its grasp only to have it snatched away?
Not so many years ago, our Spirit Lake Tribal Council refused to meet with then-UND President Charles Kupchella on the logo issue. And I remember attending a General Assembly when the logo issue was brought up -- and was overwhelmingly defeated.
Now, our reservation has a resolution supporting the name, and my fellow tribal members are threatening to take action against the Big Sky Conference, UND and the State Board of Higher Education.
Although I'm not a lawyer, I'm comfortable enough in my knowledge to say this: Our tribal court does not have jurisdiction over either UND or the state board.
And I say this with some regret, because although I am strongly against the name, I think it would be very nice indeed if our court did have jurisdiction over state institutions. For if it did, the Committee for Understanding and Respect could sue the Al Carlson-led Legislature for rejecting six bills that would have allocated close to a million dollars to address American Indian issues.
There are about 6,700 Spirit Lake tribal members. Some 700-plus voted for the name, which is roughly 10 percent of our total population.
Meanwhile, the combined population of all Sioux reservations is more than 110,000. Leaders of these reservations have signed a resolution against the name.
So, the 700-plus who voted for the name comprise less than 1 percent of the entire Sioux Nation. Hardly an overwhelming majority, I would say.
The majority of Spirit Lake tribal members who have graduated from UND are against the name and have signed a letter to that effect.
Much ado has been made of the Sioux "disappearing" if the logo is retired. This is the most foolish, racist argument of them all. Not one Caucasian has come up to me and said they are proud to meet a "Fighting Sioux" (me). On the other hand, many, many Caucasians have come up to me and shook my hand after I received my doctorate from UND.
It will be UND that will be forgotten if pro-logo supporters insist on keeping the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo.
Last but not least, a Herald editorial stated the only reason the nickname is going to be retired is because of NCAA's policy ("NCAA, not Big Sky, deserves committee's wrath," Page D1, Oct. 9).
Hmm: After all that has transpired because of the nickname over the past 40 years, it is sad to note that the editorial board and likely others still don't understand that it is derogatory to use a race of people as nicknames, mascots or logos.
Or, maybe they have, and they just don't have the courage of their convictions to state it publicly due to fear of retaliation by pro-logo supporters.
Longie is president of Spirit Lake Consulting.