Letter: Don’t forget about settlement in Fighting Sioux case
“Oh, what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive,” Sir Walter Scott.
In recent weeks there has been a run of published letters opposing the retirement of the Sioux nickname and endless grousing about softy professors, crybaby politics, the villainous NCAA, Spirit Lake victimhood, disloyal students, tepid administrators, the need for a referendum and a constitutional amendment, ad infinitum.
Rarely have the writers mentioned the 2007 settlement agreement. As a former Sioux debater, I am dismayed by this flight from reality.
In the mid-2000s, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, on behalf of North Dakota, sued the NCAA, seeking to overturn its rule against use of Indian imagery in college sports.
In 2007, the parties signed a settlement agreement. If University of North Dakota could secure approvals from both the Spirit Lake and Standing Rock Tribes by 2010, the NCAA would grant an exception to its rule. No form of voting was specified in securing these approvals.
The Spirit Lake Sioux held a referendum and approved use of the imagery. The Standing Rock Tribal Council rejected further use of the name and logo. Thus, by August 2010, without two approving votes, the exception was disallowed, and UND was required to retire the nickname and logo.
This was no garden-variety treaty between Indians and settlers. This was the definitive and conclusive agreement to end use of Sioux imagery.
There was no allowance for legislative action, none for a referendum, none for an amendment to the state Constitution.
If UND did not comply with the settlement terms, its teams would be sanctioned. Period.
Since August 2010, the Standing Rock Sioux and the NCAA have honored the terms of the settlement agreement. And there is not one scintilla of evidence supporting the idea that this will change in the future.
Donald Bruce Beard, Banning, Calif., and native of Reynolds, UND graduate, and former teacher at Mott and Beach high schools