The fight over the University of North Dakota “Fighting Sioux” nickname and logo has always been just a little bit different from most battles over Native American sports team logos and nicknames.
Today the Spirit Lake and Standing Rock Sioux tribes sued the NCAA, which has pressured UND to drop its mascot and name or face sanctions. The tribes say the name and mascot have been honorably used for more than 80 years, according to the Grand Forks Herald.
If “Fighting Sioux” is a derogatory term in the NCAA’s eyes, he asked how the association can support the University of Illinois’ use of “Fighting Illini” or Florida State University’s use of the name “Seminoles” and a mascot “dressed in Native American attire who rides into the FSU stadium on a horse and throws a flaming spear before every home football game.”
The lawsuit — which seeks damages of more than $10 million — asks that the NCAA policy against the use of Native American names and imagery “be stricken as unconstitutional and ‘hostile and abusive,’ … a violation of copyright and trademark laws” and a violation of Indian civil rights and religious freedom.
It also asks that the NCAA be required to adopt policies to promote Native American athletes, including women.
Other schools have been down this road, of course. In Illinois, Chief Illiniwek was retired in 2007.
The Florida State Seminoles were on the original NCAA list of schools required to change their names and logos. But the school was allowed to keep both because of “the unique relationship between the university and the Seminole Tribe of Florida.”