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.
â€œWe heard the people speak, and they wanted this issue discussed. Whether youâ€™re for it or against it, this is the peopleâ€™s forum,â€ Rep. Al Carlson, R-Fargo said.
More than 150 people attended the hearing, but there was dead silence as both sides made their case.
â€œCourage. Overcoming adversity. Winning battles. Pride. That was the reason it (the nickname) was chosen,â€ said nickname supporter Earl Strinden.
John Chaske of the Spirit Lake Sioux tribe also defended the nickname.
â€œOpponents of the Fighting Sioux nickname are saying that the logo imagery is hostile and abusive,â€ he said. â€œIn 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.â€
But a dozen opponents were ready to respond.
â€œI believe weâ€™re the only race of people that are used as mascots. I donâ€™t think weâ€™d get by using African-Americans as mascots. So, why is it OK to use American Indians as mascots? Very dehumanizing,â€ said Jesse â€œJayâ€ Taken Alive of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.
Rep. Lonny Winrich, D-Grand Forks, said the nickname has caused divisiveness and rancor on campus.
â€œIt 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,â€ he said.
UND Student Government representative Evan Andrist agreed.
â€œThe nickname no longer stands for the pride that it used to. Instead, itâ€™s caused huge division and strife between the whole community and the university,â€ he said.
But Jody Hodgson of the Ralph Engelstad Arena didnâ€™t think disagreement should mean losing the nickname.
â€œReasonable people should be able to disagree on something and that doesnâ€™t mean we need to change an 80-year tradition and one of the greatest brands in all of college athletics,â€ he said.
Lawmakers did not take action on the nickname bills Wednesday. They hope to make a decision sometime next week.