ARCHIVE EXTRA: At Spirit Lake Nation, opinions flow like water (April 11, 2010)
By: Kevin Bonham, Grand Forks Herald
SPIRIT LAKE NATION - While Spirit Lake Nation supporters of the UND Fighting Sioux ponder their next move, after Thursday's decision to retire the nickname and logo, others say it's just time to move on.
"I was kind of in favor of the nickname in the beginning, but it dragged on too long," Flo Dunn, an enrolled member and tribal employee, said Friday. "It was creating hard feelings among families."
Dunn was one of about 200 tribal employees participating in the annual two-day cleanup campaign who fanned out along N.D. Highway 57 and tribal roads, picking up discarded cardboard, paper, soda pop bottles and other trash.
Meanwhile, some nickname supporters here say they've been deceived, after the state Board of Higher Education decided not to wait to make a decision until the Standing Rock Reservation could vote on the issue.
Spirit Lake tribal members voted 774-378 a year ago to support the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo.
Eunice Davidson, an enrolled Spirit Lake member and nickname supporter, said Friday that the group would meet over the weekend before releasing an official statement on how it might proceed.
But that didn't stop others from sounding off.
"It's a disgusting situation, what they did," said her husband, David Davidson, a non-tribal member.
"At Standing Rock, 1,004 of the 1,900 people who voted supported the nickname.
Their voice is being silenced."
"I expected the state Supreme Court would go against us," said Lisa Kimmerly, the Davidsons' daughter. "I didn't think the higher ed board should have taken that action so fast."
Clayton and Norma Rainbow said that despite efforts by UND and its nickname supporters to honor and respect the Spirit Lake nation, the Ralph Engelstad Arena, which is adorned with thousands of Fighting Sioux logos, is a disservice to Native Americans.
"We don't have pictures of white people on the floors of our buildings for people to walk on, or throw their garbage on," Clayton Rainbow said.
Norma Rainbow said she might feel differently, had the name been the Fighting Dacotah, instead of Sioux.
"We're Dacotah people, a proud people," she said.
"Sioux is a name that was given to us. It means snake, and I'm no snake. "Farin Liggett, an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa who lives in Devils Lake, said other schools have managed to get approval from tribal governments to use their names and logos. He cited the Central Michigan Fighting Chippewa.
"If they'd like to change the name to the Fighting Chippewa, that's OK with me," he said. Liggett was wearing a Fighting Sioux jacket and a Wisconsin Badgers baseball cap Friday.
Wanda White-Trottier said she had been rather indifferent about the controversy over the years. But that changed as her children got older. Her son, Damien, is 16, her daughter, Lani, is 14.
"I'm pleased," said White-Trottier, a tribal employment specialist who was picking up trash along Highway 57. "My children are the ones who convinced me that it was a racial issue. For a long time, I thought I didn't care. But when I looked at it through their eyes, I decided I couldn't support it."
For George Zenk, a non-Indian and a former UND faculty member, any injustice in the debate was done Thursday.
"It's really kind of sad that the State Board would go against the wishes of the people of North Dakota and of both of the tribes," he said. "If the opposition thinks there's prejudice now, it's only going to get worse. I think it's far from over."
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