Fighting Sioux legislative hearing

Here’s my video story from today’s Fighting Sioux hearing. The hearing started at 9 a.m., took a two-hour break and is still going strong at 6:20 p.m.

Read a Forum Communications newspaper tomorrow for more on this story. Additional video can be found here.

Script is below:

The Fighting Sioux nickname was hot and center at the North Dakota Capitol on Wednesday.

State lawmakers spent all day listening to testimony as dozens of people showed up to support and oppose the continuation of the Fighting Sioux nickname.

“We heard the people speak, and they wanted this issue discussed. Whether you’re for it or against it, this is the people’s forum,” Rep. Al Carlson, R-Fargo said.

More than 150 people attended the hearing, but there was dead silence as both sides made their case.

“Courage. Overcoming adversity. Winning battles. Pride. That was the reason it (the nickname) was chosen,” said nickname supporter Earl Strinden.

John Chaske of the Spirit Lake Sioux tribe also defended the nickname.

“Opponents of the Fighting Sioux nickname are saying that the logo imagery is hostile and abusive,” he said. “In my opinion, hostile and abusive is more descriptive of the treatment that Spirit Lake has received from the higher ed board, the NCAA, the news media and opponents to the nickname.”

But a dozen opponents were ready to respond.

“I believe we’re the only race of people that are used as mascots. I don’t think we’d get by using African-Americans as mascots. So, why is it OK to use American Indians as mascots? Very dehumanizing,” said Jesse “Jay” Taken Alive of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

Rep. Lonny Winrich, D-Grand Forks, said the nickname has caused divisiveness and rancor on campus.

“It causes problems in the academic area. It causes problems for student athletes. It causes problems for the student life in general, and I think the university needs to move on,” he said.

UND Student Government representative Evan Andrist agreed.

“The nickname no longer stands for the pride that it used to. Instead, it’s caused huge division and strife between the whole community and the university,” he said.

But Jody Hodgson of the Ralph Engelstad Arena didn’t think disagreement should mean losing the nickname.

“Reasonable people should be able to disagree on something and that doesn’t mean we need to change an 80-year tradition and one of the greatest brands in all of college athletics,” he said.

Lawmakers did not take action on the nickname bills Wednesday. They hope to make a decision sometime next week.

3 thoughts on “Fighting Sioux legislative hearing

  1. The divisiveness on campus the Lonny Winrich speaks of was largely caused by all the liberals like him who have turned a lack of their own understanding of the Fighting Souix name into a major issue. The top officials at the University who are managing this situation should have had the courage to squeltch this argument from the onset. I am embarrased to have graduated from UND. The students and Alumni from NDSU have never had a greater last laugh. The President and the Athletic director at UND are WIMPS!!! Frank Burgraf is completely right on this issue.

  2. No one is prouder of the Sioux name than I and no one will be sadder to see it go-BUT IT’S TIME.
    If the name is kept, this will always be a focus for dissent, rancor and divisiveness on campus and off that is just not worth it. It will always be a reason for the vocal minority to demonstrate, shout and cry racism is spite of the fact that there was NEVER that intent by ANYONE and they know it. And to those who are truly and honestly offended, we do owe our respect and consideration.
    The University does not need this distraction hanging over its head into the future as it builds relationships with other institutions on academic and athletic levels. For the sake of our athletic teams, the University and all of us who are justifiably proud of our alma mater, it is time to move on, to rise above and no longer give the rabble rousers a forum for their behavior.

  3. North Dakota should not simply give up the “Fighting Sioux” name and logo. The opposition seems to have weak arguments supporting retirement. The people overwhelmingly support it and there is no convincing evidence theat the logo and name itself is hostile or abusive. Also, Native Americans are not the only race depicted in mascots. I was very supprised to hear that there are people living in North Dakota that have never heard of the “Minnesota Vikings” or the “Fighting Irish”. Or perhaps this is just some failed attempt to mislead our legislators.

    Yes, in a political debate such as this both sides can become hostile and abusive while exercising their constitutional free speech rights when debating the issue, especially with NDSU Bison fans, but that has little to do with the logo or name itself.

    North Dakota’s use and development of the “Fighting Sioux” name and the logo is a property interest that needs to be protected. If the NCAA wants to take our property away from us then the NCAA should come up with a valid reason for taking the name and logo from us. Show us the actual harm the name and logo is causing something other than the political debate that has ensued.

    Also if the name remains and the NCAA insists in imposing sanctions then it would be the NCAA’s actions that would cause harm. So the sanctions remain then couldn’t the NCAA should simply pay legal damages for any harm caused by the sanctions. I would much rather see the NCAA pay for the damage they caused.

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