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Save the Name . . . Supporters of the UND Fighting Sioux
nickname and logo, l-r, Pam Brekke, Reed Soderstrom and
Eunice Davidson stopped in Kenmare May 23rd as they traveled
the state to convince residents to vote "no" on Measure 4.
By Caroline Downs
You couldn’t miss Eunice Davidson, of the Spirit Lake Reservation and an enrolled member of the Spirit Lake Nation, when she stopped in Kenmare on Wednesday.
The “Save the Fighting Sioux” RV she was riding in was parked on the north side of the square for much of the morning, with the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux logo painted in full color on each side along with slogans like “Save the Name” and “VOTE NO measure 4.”
Davidson isn’t shy about her convictions as she represents the Committee for Understanding & Respect. “We’re advocating to save the name,” she said. “On June 12th, we’re looking for help from the people of North Dakota. Please vote no to stand with the Sioux.”
Davidson was joined in Kenmare by committee member Pam Brekke of Emerado, ND, and attorney Reed Soderstrom of Minot, who is advising the committee. Because Davidson and other committee members believe their case is being ignored by the major media outlets across the state, they are taking their message on the road directly to voters between now and June 12th.
Measure 4 on the June 12th North Dakota primary ballot will ask voters about retiring the UND Fighting Sioux logo and nickname, which has been criticized by the NCAA for being offensive to Native Americans. The NCAA also has a policy against member colleges using such logos and nicknames for sports teams.
The UND nickname has been the subject of controversy for more than five years, with the NCAA, North Dakota State Board of Higher Education and North Dakota Legislative Assembly discussing, debating and making policy over the issue.
Measure 4 is a referendum measure related to Senate Bill 2370 passed during the state’s special legislative session in November 2011. SB 2370 repealed the section of North Dakota Century Code which required UND to use the Fighting Sioux name and logo.
A “yes” vote on Measure 4 would allow UND to stop the use of the logo and nickname, while a “no” vote would require the university to continue using them.
Davidson maintained the group most affected by the UND logo and nickname--the Sioux tribal members at the Spirit Lake and Standing Rock reservations--have not been allowed to participate in the meetings and discussions held about the matter, even though their representatives have repeatedly asked to join the conversations.
Members of the Spirit Lake tribe approved the continued use of the logo and name with an overwhelming 67 percent majority, following a vote taken in April 2009. According to Davidson, that election attracted the largest voter turn-out recorded on the reservation. She also noted citizens of the Standing Rock reservation wanted to hold their own election regarding the logo and nickname, but the election has not been allowed to take place.
The Committee for Understanding & Respect is also collecting signatures to include an initiated measure on the November ballot that would include the use of the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo in the state’s constitution.
“We’re out campaigning to spread our message,” Davidson said. “This nickname and logo have never hurt anybody. The university has used it for 80 years, and people are proud and honored by this.”
More information about the Committee for Understanding & Respect, including comments about some of the sanctions threatened against UND by the NCAA if the name and logo are not changed and a more complete explanation of the entire issue, can be found online at SaveTheFightingSioux.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SaveTheSioux, and on Twitter at twitter.com/#!/SaveTheSioux.
“The UND administration and State Board [of Higher Education] have never tried to work with us,” Davidson said. “If the name is going away and people vote ‘yes’ on this measure, they need to understand they don’t stand with the Sioux tribes in North Dakota.”