Spirit Lake members want settlement reconsidered

Grand Forks, North Dakota (AP) December 2010

Spirit Lake Sioux Nation members who favor the University of North Dakota retaining its Fighting Sioux nickname are asking the NCAA to re-examine a 2007 legal settlement led to the name’s upcoming retirement. A State Board of Higher Education official believes it may be too late.

The state Board of Higher Education said it would retire the nickname if the school didn’t obtain permission from the Spirit Lake and Standing Rock Sioux tribes. Spirit Lake endorsed the nickname; Standing Rock did not.

The Grand Forks Herald reports that Eunice Davidson and nine other tribal members e-mailed NCAA President Mark Emmert last week, noting that members authorized use of the Fighting Sioux name by a nearly three-to-one margin.

Davidson said she and other members are hoping there’s still a chance to preserve the name and logo.

“At least, we want our voices at Spirit Lake to be heard,” she said. “We’re hoping there’s a good response from the NCAA.”

Duaine Espegard, a member of the State Board of Higher Education, said he thought it unlikely that the Spirit Lake letter would change anything.

“I do think it is a moot issue,” he said. “I understand what they are trying to do, but it’s pretty late in the action . We have a lawsuit, we have a settlement, and we have to follow it.”

The university’s athletic teams continue to use the 80-year-old nickname this academic year but UND has formed committees to find ways to honor the name as it is retired and to plan for the possible selection of a replacement. Also, a timeline has been set for the ending of licensing agreements concerning Fighting Sioux merchandise.