Tribal members want voice in UND nickname debateFARGO (AP) — An attorney for an American Indian group suing the NCAA in hopes of saving the University of North Dakota’s Fighting Sioux nickname said Thursday that a 2007 settlement should be thrown out so namesake tribes can be heard.
By: Dave Kolpack, The Dickinson Press
FARGO (AP) — An attorney for an American Indian group suing the NCAA in hopes of saving the University of North Dakota’s Fighting Sioux nickname said Thursday that a 2007 settlement should be thrown out so namesake tribes can be heard.
Reed Soderstrom, a Minot lawyer, argued in federal court that the Spirit Lake and Standing Rock Sioux tribes were not included in the discussions when the NCAA and the state of North Dakota negotiated the agreement.
“The Sioux people have been repeatedly refused a seat at the table to discuss this issue,” Soderstrom said during a hearing on a motion by the NCAA to dismiss the lawsuit.
The settlement called for UND to retire the nickname if it did not get approval from both of the state’s Sioux tribes by December 2010. Only Spirit Lake passed a resolution supporting the name. The Standing Rock tribal council, which has passed several resolutions opposing the nickname, has not allowed a vote on the issue.
Jonathan Duncan, an attorney for the NCAA, said the tribes are not members of the NCAA and the complaint has no legal basis. U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson had few questions on Duncan’s arguments, but interrupted the Kansas City lawyer when he complained about Soderstrom’s accusations that the NCAA ignored the will of the Sioux people.
Erickson asked why approval was required from only one Seminole tribe for Florida State to keep its nickname and from only one Chippewa tribe for Central Michigan to keep its moniker, when there are several bands of both tribes. The judge indicated the requirement for UND to get written approval from two tribes discounts the Spirit Lake tribe.
“Aren’t they Sioux enough?” the judge asked.
Duncan did not respond directly to Erickson’s query, but repeated his earlier assertion that the NCAA did nothing to violate terms of the settlement.