HolyCoast: The Natives Are Restless and the Sioux are Suing

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The Natives Are Restless and the Sioux are Suing

My friends in North Dakota have been following this story for some time.  The NCAA has been trying to force the University of North Dakota to change their "Fighting Sioux" nickname. It's a typical nanny state move in which a quasi-governmental agency decides that the poor Native Americans can't fend for themselves and therefore must be protected by the Great White Father.

Turns out the Sioux tribe is pretty fond of the "Fighting Sioux" nickname, and in fact gave that name to the university in a religious-type ceremony, and they're not going to allow the NCAA to take it away (from Say Anything):
FORT TOTTEN, ND – Speaking at the tribal headquarters of the Spirit Lake Sioux Nation, attorney Reed Soderstrom announced a lawsuit against the NCAA alleging copyright infringement and civil rights violations. The Sioux tribe supports the University of North Dakota’s “Fighting Sioux” nickname and logo, but the NCAA has deemed them to be “hostile and abusive.”

“Today, the Spirit Lake Tribe of Indians, by and through its Committee of Understanding and Respect, and Archie Fool Bear, individually, and as Representative of more than 1004 Petitioners of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, filed a lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association in direct response to their attempt to take away and prevent the North Dakota Sioux Indians from giving their name forever to the University of North Dakota,” said Soderstrom in prepared remarks.

Soderstrom alleges that the NCAA has violated “the religious and first amendment rights of the Dakota Sioux tribes.” He also alleged a double standard in the application of the NCAA’s policy against the use of Native American names and imagery. …

The lawsuit claims that the Sioux tribe were “indispensable parties” to a lawsuit filed by the State of North Dakota against the NCAA in 2007, the settlement of which required the state to get permission from the Spirit Lake and Standing Rock Sioux tribes, but were never included in negotiations of that settlement. It also alleges defamation, violations of the Indian Civil Rights Act, defamation and an unlawful restraint on trade.

The lawsuit asks that the NCAA’s policy be stricken and that the organization pay punitive damages in the amount of $10 million.
On the radio this morning I suggested that perhaps UND propose a nickname change to "NCAA Morons" and see how that flies.

The NCAA has no business approving school nicknames or mascots. That should be left up to the local campuses to decide for themselves. Many schools have opted for changes over the years. The Stanford Indians became the Stanford Cardinal in 1972 after they caved in to requests from angry Indians, and my old school Point Loma College was The Crusaders when I was there but have since switched to the Sea Lions in 2002, probably in response to political correctness given the connection of The Crusaders to the fight against Islam. My daughter's college, Sonoma State University, was once known The Cossacks, but changed to The Seawolves after some lib professor got his tighty-whities in a knot.

Whether you agree with these changes or not, they were made at the local level and not by some NCAA mandate. That's the way it should be.

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