Suing Sioux

Sioux

Wow, this is still going on?

Way back in November, 2009, I wrote about the strange case of the University of North Dakota, a school that has, since 1930, used the Fighting Sioux as a mascot.

The NCAA considers American Indian nicknames offensive and told UND to find a new nickname or the school would not be allowed to host NCAA postseason tournaments. The Spirit Lake Sioux tribal members, however, objected, preferring that the school keep the mascot because it “benefits the state’s Sioux people by raising awareness of their history and culture.” And the state passed a law requiring the school to keep the Fighting Sioux nickname

According to a piece by Dave Kolpack in the Huffington Post:

Six American Indian students at the University of North Dakota filed a federal lawsuit Thursday asking to eliminate the school’s Fighting Sioux nickname, one day before state officials are scheduled to meet with NCAA officials about the moniker.

The complaint alleges that a new law requiring the school to keep the nickname violates the state constitution and reverses a court-ordered settlement between UND and the NCAA that retired the logo. The students want a court order directing the state Board of Higher education and UND to drop it for good.

The students argue that the nickname has had “a profoundly negative impact” on their self-image and psychological health, and deprives them “of an equal educational experience and environment.”

Duly noted, but this particular lawsuit appears only incidental to the issue at hand. Technically UND has every legal right to keep the nickname; the trouble is that if the school insists on retaining it the NCAA will institute sanctions. The athletic association won’t let the school host postseason tournaments or wear the school’s logo in postseason games.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer