The Only Way To Respect All Views On UND Nickname Is A Permanent Moratorium

fighting sioux

“It’s a dumb bill,” the always eloquent Fargo Forum editorial board writes today of Rep. Scott Louser’s bill to extend the moratorium on a new UND nickname until the middle of 2017.

“It’s a transparent pander to unreconstructed UND alums and others who have not – and will not – get it through their heads that the retired logo and nickname are racist and offensive.”

I think the Forum just accidentally made the case for a permanent moratorium on nicknames at UND. Because in claiming that the “Fighting Sioux” logo and nickname are “racist and offensive” they illustrate how polarized this debate has become.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]”We’ve retired the logo/nickname out of respect to those Native Americans who find it offensive. But how about a moratorium on a new nickname out of respect to those Native Americans (and others) who never found it offensive?”[/mks_pullquote]

Now, far be it for me to pierce the bubble the Forum editorial board lives in, but the idea that the “Fighting Sioux” is racist and offensive to everyone is a bit ridiculous. The logo was designed by a Native American. It’s still worn proudly by thousands and thousands of North Dakotans including political figures as disparate in their politics as Republican Lt. Governor Drew Wrigley and U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp. The only vote taken by Native Americans in North Dakota on this issue showed the Spirit Lake Sioux tribe supporting the logo/nickname overwhelmingly.

The logo/nickname are retired now, but the last people fighting to keep it were members of the Spirit Lake Sioux who went so far as to sue the NCAA over the issue.

The Forum declares the logo/nickname to be “racist and offensive” as if that were a fact, but it’s not even something all Native Americans agree on.

Still, there are plenty (including in the Native American communities) who dislike the logo and nickname. They feel it is offensive. They’re in the minority, I believe, but they’ve won out. The NCAA has forced the retirement of the logo and nickname.

It is what it is. Which brings me to the point of my post: Maybe the best way to move on for all involved is to never have a nickname at UND again? Why not amend Louser’s proposed moratorium to add permanence? Instead of a moratorium into 2017, why not a moratorium forever?

“Fighting Sioux” haters can be satisfied with the fact that the logo/nickname are no longer in official use (though UND will, ironically, have to use them occasionally to maintain their rights to them per the settlement with the NCAA).  “Fighting Sioux” lovers can be happy there will be no new nickname and logo to replace the old one.

And people who are tired of the debate over the logo/nickname can be satisfied that the matter is settled with a degree of permanence.

This would represent compromise, and no doubt it wouldn’t be entirely satisfying to anyone. But that’s the nature of compromise. We’ve retired the logo/nickname out of respect to those Native Americans who find it offensive. But how about a moratorium on a new nickname out of respect to those Native Americans (and others) who never found it offensive?

There are some in this debate who want to win, and they won’t feel they’ve won until the “Fighting Sioux” is crushed under the boot of bureaucracy and political correctness. But this shouldn’t be about winning. At this point in the debate, let’s do something that gives all sides a little bit of a win.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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