SPIRIT LAKE, ND – Noticeably absent from last week’s NCAA meeting in Indianapolis to discuss UND’s Fighting Sioux nickname were official representatives from the Sioux nations, a decision that stunned Spirit Lake’s tribal leadership and left them wondering if the NCAA’s quest really had anything to do with respecting their dignity at all.
Well ahead of the August 12 meeting, the Spirit Lake Chairman and Tribal Council wrote a letter to the NCAA asking if they could come to the meeting and represent their tribe’s position on the issue, but NCAA officials denied the Sioux nation’s request.
“Here they are going to talk about the fate of the Fighting Sioux, and the name and the proper use that UND has given it, and the tribe that supports it, they don’t even want to hear from,” said Frank Black Cloud, a Spirit Lake Leader, on the Scott Hennen show yesterday. “How do you not want to hear from the people that it affects the most?”
“The name was given generations ago,” stated Black Cloud, “and the NCAA really has no bearing as to what the tribe does and how the tribe gives their namesake away. We gave it in honor.”
Black Cloud echoed the sentiments of many Native Americans who testified before the House and Senate Committee hearings in favor of the legislation requiring UND to retain the nickname despite NCAA interference and the eventual legal settlement between the state and the NCAA.
“Who is the NCAA to come in and think that they can take that name away from us? I’m really disgusted with the whole thing,” continued Black Cloud. “They should be ashamed of themselves, especially in the cowardly way they did things. They should have had the tribes at the table as well from the beginning – not just when they made this decision Friday, but when they first started to ask about this thing.”
Spirit Lake Nation is the only Sioux tribe that lies fully within the boundaries of North Dakota, and it is the closest Sioux reservation to Grand Forks and the University of North Dakota. The tribe voted overwhelmingly to support UND’s use of the Fighting Sioux nickname, although Standing Rock Nation’s council did not.
“Disrespectful is not even close to what I would call the way they have been treating us,” Black Cloud commented disdainfully. “To be honest with you, I feel that the NCAA and the fight that Spirit Lake now has before them to help UND keep this name is going to turn out to be a modern day Little Big Horn.”
Black Cloud indicated that “something big” is coming from Spirit Lake, but would not say exactly what was planned. However, it was clear that the tribe has decided to continue fighting to keep the Fighting Sioux name alive. “I’m peeling my gloves off. I’m ready to fight these guys.”
“I would like to push for a discrimination case against the NCAA. They are discriminating against Native Americans in this whole thing,” he said. “You have six other established tribes that have given their namesake and permission…Why is it so hard to allow us that permission?…One tribe should have been enough.”
“It is not about UND anymore,” stated Black Cloud. “It’s about the discrimination and the disrespect that NCAA has shown the people here and the voting parties of Spirit Lake. They wanted us to go away quietly, but we’re not going to.”