UND Between Rock and a Hard Place

The University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux find themselves in a tough situation; one that you could argue is terribly unfair to the university, their fans, and their attempts to just run their athletic program.

On Side A you have the NCAA, who has banned the use of all Native American imagery for their member schools in tournament play – which includes the Fighting Sioux.

On Side B you have the Government of the State of North Dakota who have enacted a law stating the University of North Dakota MUST retain the Fighting Sioux name.

What is a team to do?

“We are walking a tightrope here, we will do everything we can to walk that fine line. We will still be competing officially as the Fighting Sioux, but you won’t hear any ‘Here come the Fighting Sioux’ announcements or see the logo in the program.”, says UND president Robert Kelley.

The illegal UND hockey uniforms

The next test comes this weekend with the UND men’s hockey team during which the team will be wearing new uniforms; uniforms excluding the team nickname and logo. The women’s team had to compete in similar uniforms this past weekend.  NCAA rules state that if the team goes out wearing the usual team uniforms, pictured above, they will automatically forfeit the game.

How does North Dakota’s Sioux tribes feel about the college using the name, in reality shouldn’t their opinion be the only one that matters in this whole case?

Well, in 2007 the university agreed to abide by NCAA policy and drop the name and logo unless the Sioux tribes endorsed their use. The Spirit Lake Sioux tribe welcomed the name, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe did not – although historians and fans contend that this tribe previously gave their blessing during a religious ceremony in 1969.

The state legislature does not force the team to use the name or logo on the uniforms; just that the school officially retain the nickname.  The NCAA does not allow the use of any logos on official team publications or uniforms – including cheerleader outfits and even luggage tags.  In fact no UND team photo could appear in the women’s tournament program because the photo still featured the old uniforms with the Fighting Sioux logo.

At this point it appears fans are still allowed to wear the old gear to games but who knows how far the NCAA could eventually go with their regulations.

“It’s a fine line,” Kelley continued, “We certainly don’t want to violate the law, and we will not violate the law. But officially, by state law, we are the Fighting Sioux.”

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16 Responses to UND Between Rock and a Hard Place

  1. Matthew Jones says:

    Political Correctness at its finest. The Sioux nation has given its blessing (and UND has paid them per NCAA rules) to use the Sioux logo and name. However, the NCAA stabs them in the back. Funny, I didn’t see them do this to Florida State in the Men’s Tournament, nor in the bowl games.

  2. Dude says:

    UND actually only has the approval of one of the Sioux nations in the state, but not the other – thus, they are not allowed to use the name. Florida State, however, has the full blessing of the Seminole Nation, not just a partial one.

  3. yh says:

    Obviously this is going to end up in court. We are, after all, a Sioux-happy society.

  4. RP Sports says:

    It’s ridiculous the NCAA is putting up this much of a fuss about this. Why don’t they go after other names with the same fervor? Like the Fighting Irish. I’m sure Musketeers and Cavaliers take offense with how they’re being represented too. And I know there are some animal rights activists that hate how there are so many animal names for teams, let’s cater to them and eliminate all team names with animals.

  5. elmo10 says:

    The NCAA is a joke! Why can’t that group of stuffy old people come to the realization that Native American nicknames came about as to honor the different Natives based on their location in the United States?.. Political Correctness is once again trying to mess with our Freedom of Speech! Keep the name and logo, please!

  6. Fletcher says:

    Until the WASHINGTON REDSKINS have to change their name, no other team in the nation should be forced to

  7. Cam says:

    Native Americans should be honored that their people are considered tough. It is only a very small minority who thinks they shouldn’t chang names

  8. Aaron says:


    Absolutely. Teams named after Native American tribes isn’t offensive, it actually honours that tribe quite well. And check out the cool logos they come out with. I know the whole world is trying to be politically correct, but come on. As far as the Fighting Sioux logo goes, keep it but tweak it a little if anything. Especially if the representatives in either tribe says it’s okay.

  9. John says:

    Didn’t the Chippewa tribe in Michigan give its blessing to Central Michigan University continuing the use of their tribal name?

  10. Bill A says:

    This is ridiculous. Granted there is racism across the world today – any of which is intolerable. But that doesn’t mean that team names and logos should be retroactively assigned as being racist. A team like the Redskins I can see but still, I don’t think they need to change theirs due to the fact that it was established in the 1920’s instead of the 21st century.

    NOTE: I realize this is out of place, but can someone contact the site administrator and tell them that I haven’t been able to get a confirmation e-mail from the message board site about my new account?

    I have tried every available option to contact someone but the fact that my account hasn’t been confirmed by me, I am unable to use any means of contact on the site.

    It’s my first attempt to establish an account here and I then tried to do it a second time by starting a new account with my other e-mail address. But I don’t get e-mails even in my junk or spam folders. I don’t know what else to do.

    The user names I “have” but cannot confirm yet are AtomicFury and SonOfWRA. How can I contact someone?

    Again, my apologies for using this topic.

  11. Mike says:

    You know really, these schools using these Native American nicknames are keeping the Natives names and what not alive. Without native nicknames, people would totally forget about the native americans. If you wont let the schools use the nicknames and logos, might as well just erase everything the Natives have done for and in this country and pretend they didnt exist. The nicknames and logos are keeping the Natives alive, their spirit and their recognition in this country.

  12. Jackson says:

    It’s so nice that some of you commenters care so much about Native Americans, but I’m sure there are better ways to honor them than making them your mascot and doing tomahawk chops. I’m not really sure what “political correctness” really means, but to me it means “trying not to be a jerk”. The NCAA banned Native American nicknames because in way too many cases, they treated Native Americans as something less than people. Kind of like how one of the commenters here literally compared naming a team after Native Americans to naming a team after animals.

  13. Ken says:

    Jackson, you need to learn to read, and comprehend, what others write. Nobody compared a Native American team name to Animal team names. They simply stated that *someone* is always going to be offended by something, and if we start here, with teams that have the (at least partial) blessing of the tribe they are named after, who’s to say the NCAA won’t step further into matters that are unnecessary, and ban Animal names, as well, because the animal didn’t give it’s consent, right?

    What better way would you suggest to honour the Native Americans these disputedly-named teams are named after? If you are going to suggest that an alternate method exists, do everyone a favour and put it in your post.

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  15. Sioux Fan says:

    Actually they need permission from 5 tribes. 4 Have approved it. The Standing Rock Tribe has not approved or rejected it. They refuse to vote on it. I grew up on this reservation. I know from the people I talk to, the name would be welcome and have pride in the name. The history of the Sioux took great pride in being a great warrior. It is the inaction of Standing Rock that is preventing this.

    P.S. If they put it to a vote and voted no I would support the name change. It should go to the people to vote.

  16. Sioux Fan says:

    Jackson you should know this was brought on by 3 former UND students, not the Tribes themselves.

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