“[T]here’s no hypocrisy in UND selling Fighting Sioux merchandise, because UND never said there was anything wrong with the Fighting Sioux name and logo in the first place,” Tom Dennis wrote for the Grand Forks Herald last week.
I’m as tired of the never-ending Fighting Sioux controversy as anyone, but I think we have a duty to not re-write history around what has been an extremely controversial issue in the state for a generation now.
The University of North Dakota continuing to license and sell “Fighting Sioux” merchandise is absolutely hypocritical.
Yes, it’s being done so that UND can maintain the rights to the popular logo/nickname combination, and yes that’s because the settlement in the State of North Dakota’s lawsuit filed against the NCAA requires it. If UND gave up the rights to the logo/nickname some enterprising entrepreneur would snap them up and sell merchandise to the Fighting Sioux fans who never wanted to let it go in the first place.
But how does any of that make the decision to continue using the logo/nickname, albeit in a limited fashion, any less hypocritical when the whole point of its official retirement was that it was supposedly racist?
Allow me to make that point in a different way, because it seems some people are having a hard time getting it. The NCAA forced the University of North Dakota to retire the logo/nickname because it was supposedly “hostile and abusive” but then not only allowed but actually required UND to keep its rights to the logo/nickname in a legal settlement.
And the only way the school can maintain those rights is by using the logo/nickname. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s the language from the settlement:
That’s what hypocrisy looks like. You can’t say that the logo/nickname are racist, and then go right on using it to protect trademark rights.
I still think sate Rep. Scott Louser (R-Minot) had it right when he called for the logo/nickname rights to be given to the Spirit Lake Sioux tribe which opposed the retirement, something which is explicitly allowed by the way per the language above. But UND and the NCAA can’t allow that for two reasons.
First, it would make this whole exercise in retiring the logo/nickname look like the exercise in pinheaded bureaucracy it was when actual Sioux Indians have no problem licensing Fighting Sioux merchandise.
Second, it would undermine the school’s efforts to cram the new “Fighting Hawks” nickname down everybody’s throats.