UPDATE: Yes, Clearly I Got the Wrong School. The dangers of writing on the fly are manifest. I've made the changes, and thanks to all you kindly commentors who pointed the error with such sensitivity.
In what seems like a shockingly fairminded decision, a court settlement has given North Dakota three years to get the approval of the Sioux tribes in the state to agree to the nickname "The Fighting Sioux".
If the college can't get them, then the nickname must go, or UND will face serious NCAA sanctions.
It seems quite unlikely, outside of a huge payout to the tribes (even if they would go for that, which is also unlikely) that the name will be around past 2011. There just are not too many scenarios in which both Spirit Lake Nation and Standing Rock go along with it. Hell, the Standing Rock reservation isn't too crazy about the word Sioux to begin with. I quote their front page on their website:
The people of these nations are often called "Sioux", a term that dates back to the seventeenth century when the people were living in the Great Lakes area. The Ojibwa called the Lakota and Dakota "Nadouwesou" meaning "adders." This term, shortened and corrupted by French traders, resulted in retention of the last syllable as "Sioux."
I've heard the word translated as "snakes in the grass." Obviously, it isn't a compliment, either way. Many Sioux would prefer to be called Lakota or Dakota. And I doubt they are looking the University of North Dakota to become the Fighting Lakotas.
Because not mentioned in this story thus far, and an element that is important, is that the state of the art arena on the UND campus is named after a benefactor, an alumni, who happened to be a horrible racist, and the arena was designed purposefully to force the school to keep the mascot.
Ralph Engelstad was profiled by our own Garwood B. Jones, when he nominated Ralphie for our Sports Legion of Doom. It bears repeating that the man whose name graces the arena at North Dakota did this: "On April 20th in 1986 and 1988, he hosted birthday parties for Adolf Hitler at his casino in Las Vegas which featured bartenders in T-shirts reading "Adolf Hitler — European tour 1939-45". (source: Wikipedia)
It isn't hard to imagine that the American Indian tribes anywhere in the world will have a hard time believing that Ralph Engelstad was trying to honor them when he filled his arena with over 2000 Fighting Sioux images, and threatened to withdraw funding when the idea of a mascot name change was first floated. You see, Hitler fetishists don't have a lot of credibility amongst our Native American population. Or amongst our White Population, though a $100 million dollar arena in the middle of Bumfuck, NDAK will make White People put aside their principles.
The agreement reached today seems to suggest that the NCAA would be willing to look the other way when it comes to the more expensively lodged mascot symbols--the goal would be to either get the Sioux's approval, or change the name, and cover up the more prominent Fighting Sioux regalia.
Again, this seems remarkably fair-minded. I guess pussy little Dan Snyder can praise his lucky stars that his much more offensive Redskins don't have any Native American reservations in their bailiwick. This sort of fair-minded concept would make him upset, and he would certainly stamp his tiny feet. Because Dan Snyder is a pussy.