Head Of UND Alumni Association Threatens Spirit Lake Tribe Over Continuing Fighting Sioux Fight
Tim O’Keefe is the president of the University of North Dakota Alumni Association, the group that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars convincing North Dakota voters that voting to keep the Fighting Sioux nickname would hurt the university. O’Keefe and his organization won that fight, but the Spirit Lake Tribe is promising to have the issue on the ballot again in 2014.
Apparently feeling like his cause is helped by being needlessly provocative, and alienating a lot of people, O’Keefe sent this rather intemperate screed to the Devils Lake Journal promising to treat further efforts to promote the Fighting Sioux nickname as “malicious” attacks on UND.
Maybe O’Keefe is feeling like a tough guy after his well-funded political effort to fight the nickname referendum defeated the plucky tribal volunteers, but it’s hard to imagine how this serves his call.
In fact, I’d say O’Keefe’s invective is indicative of the sort of arrogance that has marked higher education’s handling of this issue. Even as higher education officials and their surrogates like O’Keefe claimed to respect the nickname supporters they dealt with the matter in bad faith.
Had higher education officials acted in good faith on this matter I don’t think the issue would become nearly so contentious. At best, had higher education officials hadn’t been working hard behind the scenes to undermine the nickname, the university might have been able to keep it.
But all of that has been debated endlessly in the past.
I actually agree with O’Keefe that putting the Sioux issue on the ballot again is a bad idea. The people had their vote, and they voted the issue down. The nickname supporters should find another path forward for their cause. But it’s in very poor taste to belittle the tribal interests in this way given that they never really got a fair shake in this debacle.Tags: fighting sioux, North Dakota News, tim o'keefe, und alumni association