I am an honors engineering graduate of the University of North Dakota(UND) in Grand Forks. During its formative years, UND became known as the “Fighting Sioux”, a moniker drawn from the extensive Sioux Indian tribes who have oil-rich reservations scattered throughout North and South Dakota.
Now, politically correct NCAA officers have been on the warpath(excuse the pun) to expunge Indian names from Universities and Colleges who have honored their local Indian nations by using tribal names in their logos or mascots.
This has been an accepted tradition for decades with carefully crafted logos and mascot designations designed to honor Indian tribal contributions in that state.
Recently, in the rush to maintain political correctness, the NCAA has threatened to eliminate post-season participation or even Divisional membership for any school that does not eliminate the “offensive” use of Indian tribal artifacts or names.
In some instances, left-leaning schools such as Wisconsin, Iowa and others have refused to play UND teams until such time that UND eliminates the Sioux logo from their name. Talk about liberal loons scraping the bottom of the barrel.
The internationally known Stanford University Indians because the Stanford Cardinal due to the weak-kneed University administration catering to leftist groups who felt that the Indian name, even by itself, impugned the Indian culture.
In North Dakota, millions of dollars of oil revenues are yearly distributed to the Indian nations from mineral leases in that area – including the Sioux tribes. Perhaps its time that the oil folks moved to private land(rather than Indian reservations) and began drilling there – inasmuch as there is more oil on North Dakota private land than there is in most of Saudi Arabia or even parts of Alaska.
Or, perhaps some of the Indian run casinos on reservations need to be closed down as a reprisal….well, that won’t happen since the US government is even more politically correct regarding activities on sovereign lands inhabited(under federal or state administration) by Indian nations.
The University of North Dakota is in a quandary – inasmuch as petitions have been made to overturn federal or NCAA regulations requiring the elimination of the Sioux logo. Most of these petitions are from alumni and friends of the University who see the intrusion of the NCAA into this issue as political garbage.
The UND quandary is that they are “damned if they do, and damned if they don’t” as the saying goes – since accepting the NCAA guidelines alienates many well-heeled UND alumni – including us(perhaps not as well-heeled as others). Fighting the NCAA dictum eliminates UND from many inter-collegiate activities, both seasonal and post-season.
Remember, this is the same NCAA which may soon have to decide whether to partially or totally eliminate the football program at Penn State due to pedophilia and homosexual activity in the sports programs at that University. We shall see just how “even handed” the NCAA can be in dealing with these diverse issues.
So, what to do? Other schools such as the Florida Seminoles and Cherokee label names for Michigan schools worked together with the local tribes and found common ground. UND has not taken that important step, other than trying to figure out whether alumni support is more important than athletic participation.
I happen to know the UND President personally – he’s a good man with a good heart who has had to bear the burden of this NCAA treachery. UND has undergone some terrible tragedies, including serious flooding to University property as well as high profile murders and other catastrophies in recent years.
I remember the University from the 1960’s when Phil Jackson(NBA coach) and I were classmates and such mundane issues as Indian tribal names wasn’t even in the back of the most liberal minds. However, times change and without significant issues to come to grips with, liberal elements of our society seem to find busy work and enjoy seeing major elements of our society, including major Unversities, kow tow to their politically correct agendas.
What should Dr. Kelley and his administrative personnel do? Well, it’s a bit late now but they should have invited all of the tribal Sioux leaders to a sit down on the University campus, passed around the traditional peace pipe and explain what the University could do on and off campus, to enhance knowledge of the heritage of the various Indian tribes who inhabited much of the grassy plains of North Dakota well before it became a state in 1889.
Likely that would have placated the few tribal leaders who had a burr under their saddle or blanket – and UND would be able to move on to greater issues than one which has divided the alumni and made collegiate athletic recruitment a far more difficult job.
Gene Shaparenko – BSEE, 1966.