Yesterday the North Dakota University System held a summit on relations with the state’s Native American population. This comes after some stupid “Siouxper Drunk” t-shirts worn at a City of Grand Forks event reignited the battle over the “Fighting Sioux” nicknames.
Some activists want expulsion for the UND students who wore the “Siouxper Drunk” t-shirts (though many wearing the shirts don’t attend UND), and an outright ban on supporting the university’s former Fighting Sioux logo or displaying it in any way on campus.
The summit, held in Bismarck, was organized by Chancellor Larry Skogen to address these concerns. But guess who he forgot to invite? Representatives of the committee of Native Americans representing Sioux people from the Spirit Lake and Standing Rock reservations.
As luck would have it, I had Spirit Lake Sioux tribal member Eunice Davidson – who is also a member of that tribe’s pro-nickname Committee for Understanding and Respect – on the radio to talk about her new book, Aren’t We Sioux Enough? (the title taken from a federal judge’s comments to NCAA lawyers in 2012).
During the interview, which took place while I was guest hosting the Christopher Gabriel Program, I asked Davidson if she or any other members of the pro-nickname effort in the state’s Native American communities had been invited to the summit in Bismarck.
She said they didn’t even know about the event, learning about it for the firs time yesterday by way of media reports.
The university system event was dubbed “Creating an Atmosphere of Respect,” but clearly university leaders didn’t have enough respect for Native Americans with pro-Fighting Sioux nickname views to invite them or even alert them to this event.
Which seems in character for North Dakota’s higher education leaders, who only seem to care about Native American views on this issue when they’re the right views.