Published February 02 2008
Tribal Chairwoman: Spirit Lake wants Sioux nickname issue put to restFORT TOTTEN, N.D. (AP) - Members of the Spirit Lake Nation likely will vote on whether to support the University of North Dakota's ``Fighting Sioux' nickname, tribal leaders say.
Tribal Chairwoman Myra Pearson said Saturday that the tribe has grown tired of the issue.
"It's been something that's not as important as our health care or housing or everything we're faced with out here, but it's been popping up all the time, and I think we need to put it to rest here pretty quick,' she said.
Under a settlement with the NCAA reached last October, UND has three years to win support of the state's Sioux tribes for its nickname and American Indian head logo. If that does not happen, the nickname and logo are to be retired.
At a general assembly meeting of Spirit Lake Sioux members Thursday, several people suggested the nickname authorization question be decided by a referendum vote, Councilwoman Lois Leben said.
Neither Leben nor Pearson could say when a vote might be held. Pearson said that if Tribal Council members gain enough feedback during upcoming district meetings, the wishes of the majority might be clear enough for the council itself to decide.
``Maybe it won't even have to go to a vote,' she said.
Leben said she supports UND's use of the nickname. Pearson said she personally opposes the nickname, but that ``I represent all of these (tribal members), and I have to see what they decide.'
Leaders at Standing Rock, North Dakota's other Sioux reservation, have been more firm in their opposition to the nickname. Tribal Chairman Ron His Horse Is Thunder has spoken out strongly against the nickname, and the Tribal Council has passed a resolution reaffirming its opposition.
Spirit Lake's current resolution regarding the nickname states that the tribe does not oppose the nickname providing ``something positive' comes from the controversy surrounding it.
Pearson said she reads the resolution as neither supporting nor opposing the nickname. The NCAA earlier deemed the resolution insufficient to grant UND a tribal namesake exception to its policy banning Indian nicknames and imagery.