Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe Announces Lawsuit Against NCAA Alleging Civil Rights Violations And Copyright Infringement

Written by Plains Daily Report. Posted in PD Video, Plains Daily Exclusives

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Published on November 01, 2011 with 8 Comments

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.

“Though the NCAA has decided ‘Fighting Sioux’ is derogatory, the NCAA supports the University of Illinois’ use of the name ‘Fighting Illini,’ and the use by Florida State University of the name ‘Seminoles’ along with the Seminole mascot – someone dressed in Native American attire who rides into the FSU stadium on a horse and throws a flaming spear before every home football game,” said Soderstrom. “The NCAA claims these are not derogatory depictions because the Illini people and the Seminole people approve of the use of the name and mascot. Inexplicably, the NCAA fails to accept the tribal vote and the sacred religious ceremony as endorsements of the name ‘Fighting Sioux’ by the North Dakota Sioux Nation.”

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.

Earlier this year the North Dakota legislature passed a law ordering the University of North Dakota to keep the “Fighting Sioux” nickname despite NCAA sanctions. The bill was signed into law by Governor Jack Dalrymple, but after a meeting between state officials and NCAA leadership in Indiana Dalrymple and other state leaders feel the law should be repealed in an upcoming special session of the legislature.

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  1. Inexplicably, the NCAA fails to accept the tribal vote and the sacred
    religious ceremony as endorsements of the name ‘Fighting Sioux’ by the
    North Dakota Sioux Nation.” 

    Inexplicably?  This is because there are more than one Sioux tribe in the state of North Dakota.   The Standing Rock tribe has voted to retire the name.  If one affected group feels it’s offensive, but another does not, what is the right thing to do? 

    • Did the Standing Rock Tribe actually have a vote?
       

    • The Standing Rock Tribal Councel would not allow a full tribal vote on keeping the name. So there was NO VOTE! This allowed the NCAA to SteamRoll UND; which is what the “Standing Rock Counsel members wanted”. Over 1000 members of the Standing Rock Tribe signed a petition that is included in this lawsuit to keep the name. The Lawsuit Fact Sheet above is very Compelling in stating the over reach of the NCAA’s powers & Jurisdiction.

  2. last I heard, the other tribe NEVER VOTED. obviously if people are fighting this much to keep it. just let us. FIGHTING SIOUX FOREVER!

    • Well, then ND legislator’s vote to keep the name shouldn’t count either, after all the people of ND did not get to vote. Standing Rock tribal council has repeatedly said NO to UND’s use of the name. In fact for the last three decades they have said NO. There has been at least two elections of tribal council members at Standing Rock, and the tribal members do NOT vote in pro nickname supporters to the council. Archie Fool Bear has tried and failed to get on the council. Standing Rock has clearly said NO.

  3. There are no Illini People. Fighting Illini is only allowed because it refers to people from Illinois

  4. This is great news. The NCAA shouldn’t be allowed to push the State of North Dakota and its people around.

    http://wildninja.wordpress.com/2011/08/16/the-fighting-sioux/

  5. Maybe they should change it to “Fighting SUE”?!

    Better yet, we could all put on our big-girl panties and stop bickering over stupid crap.

    There’s nothing “Offensive” about it!

    If we change the name of a street to “MLK Boulevard” — in addition to guaranteeing increased violence and lots of “freelance pharmacists” setting up shop — it’s commonly considered “In Honor Of…” Similar initiatives are commonly implemented to “honor” some local notable person(s) or organization(s).

    Likewise this.

    The Sioux are part of the history of the State – and the University is honoring this fact by naming their sports team.

    Personally, I figure the only ones with a “say” in the matter are students and benefactors – all others should be offered a nice cup of STFU.

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