Take Action: Tell North Dakota Legislators Not To Repeal The Fighting Sioux Bill

During the legislative session earlier this year thousands of North Dakotans, including thousands of you SAB readers, nearly crashed the legislature’s computer system with emails telling our representatives to make the University of North Dakota’s “Fighting Sioux” nickname state law. It worked. They listened, and it is now the law.

But since then, thanks to a tireless campaign by university officials in the state and a half-hearted effort by state leaders to make the case for the nickname to the NCAA, it looks like the law may be repealed. But would that really be the will of the people in the state? How can we have gone from thousands and thousands of citizens supporting a bill that passed by big majorities in the legislature to our state leaders carrying on as if the elimination of the nickname were a done deal?

Does UND not belong to we taxpayers? And now that the Sioux people have taken up the fight for the nickname themselves, don’t we owe it to them to have their day in court before the state acts?

The form below will send an email to every single legislator in the state. Please use it to respectfully ask that they keep the law as it is, and vote against any effort to repeal it. Make your voices heard.

[customcontact form=29]

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • DaveH63

    Oh but Tom Dennis has a different plan.  

    • RCND

      The day we let the editorial boards significantly impact what we do and how we think in ND, we may as well turn the whole state government over to the State Board of Higher Ed to run.

      • DaveH63

        I know.  I was just kidding.  The Herald always has the solutions.  They are just never very good or practical.

  • borborygmi

    Rob Port “I don’t want the gov’t to get involved ………..until of course I want the gov’t to get involved.  
    Let UND, the Sioux people and NCAA settle it.

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      You do understand that it’s a state school, right?

      I’ve called for the university system to be privatized, but until that happens we taxpayers get a say in how the universities are run.

      • S_B_G

        So, you don’t want the government to spend money to educate its citizens, but you do want the government to spend money to fight for a nickname for its athletic program. That’s your position? Just so we’re clear.

        • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

          The state has spent far less money on fighting for the Sioux nickname than will be spent to get rid of it.

          And I’d prefer that higher education not be made an entitlement.  I think policies doing that have created a bubble in higher education that has lowered the quality of education while simultaneously increasing its cost.

          I think the public was better served when college was something you earned, not something the government gave to you.

          For me this issue is more about PC idiocy.  We’re banning a name to protect a people who not only don’t want to be protected from it but actually endorse it.

          I wasn’t the one who picked this fight over the nickname.

          • schreib

            If the ncaa forces a change, the state of North Dakota should send them a bill for costs.  It looks like it would be almost a cool million.    Why not, they are making all kinds of money selling Sioux merchandise—and they are still selling things today on their website.  No taxpayer dollars to change something that don’t need changing.  

          • S_B_G

            The government is giving people college degrees? Funny, I remember paying tuition, attending classes, writing papers and taking tests.

            It’s free now! You don’t have to do anything to earn a degree!

            You “think” the public was better served when a college degree was “earned”.

            I don’t know if it’s still like this, pal, but when I enrolled at NDSU in 1983, North Dakota had an open enrollment policy (meaning ANYONE who had graduated from high school in ND could be admitted) and tuition was about $300 a quarter. I seriously doubt that it is now somehow easier to get a degree today than it was 30 years ago. So, when exactly was the public better served? 100 years ago?

          • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

            I didn’t say free, I said it’s been made an entitlement.  And it has, through policies that subsidize higher education and lower lending standards for student loans, etc.

            And you can doubt all you want that it’s easier to get a degree than 30 years ago, but reality doesn’t back you up.  This study is an interesting place to start, but if you use Google I’m sure you can find a number of additional sources.


            And there’s a lot of interesting data here too about grade inflation:


            Also, it’s interesting that you mention tuition in 1983, because you’re kind of proving my point.  Since 1985, tuition has inflated 498.31% while the overall inflation rate has been just 115%.

            This is the problem I’m talking of.

            So, when exactly was the public better served? 100 years ago?

            I would say that before the LBJ administration, which saw the beginning of federal student loan policy, is a good place to start though in a lot of ways the GI Bill which granted government-paid college education to veterans was the beginning of inflation of demand for higher education as well.

            The largest problem, I think, is that in subsidizing higher education and higher education financing we’re pushing kids to go to college just because rather than because the education is really going to serve them well.  There are a lot of kids who drift through four (or five or six) years and emerge with a generic degree that’s not worth the $30,000 in debt they ran up to get it.

            That situation is not serving the public well, and I’d be surprised if you didn’t agree.

          • S_B_G


            Tuition has gone up because the burden has been increasingly shifted to the student!@7c0fe7a1e81ed47e1466f6a1c2fa2ded:disqus
            From the college board’s annual survey of colleges:


            “Reductions in revenue from sources other than tuition, particularly state and local appropriations in the public sector, are associated with rapidly rising public college tuition levels in recent years.”


            “The net price of college is defined as the published price less the average grant aid and tax benefits students receive. Net price in public four-year colleges fell in inflation-adjusted dollars between 1997-98 and 2001-02, but has risen rapidly since.”


            “The proportion of students enrolled in for-profit institutions is increasing.”

            The facts are that students are taking on a higher burden, the job market demands more education to get a chance at a decent job due to the deterioration of the manufacturing sector over the part forty years, and more and more people ARE going to for-profit institutions.

            At no time has been more onerous for students to get a college education and the job market increasingly demands that college education. Meanwhile, the government continues to reduce funding. And you somehow think that college is an entitlement.


            This blog is appropriately titled. Good. Bye.

          • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

            I’m sorry that a little bit of debate back and forth angers you so much that you feel the need to do the internet equivalent of storming off in a snit.

            Again, the inflation since 1985 is nearly 500%.  Are you suggesting that appropriations over that time frame have gone down 500%?

            And while I can’t speak for all state, higher education appropriations certainly haven’t gone down in ND.  Since the 2003 – 2005 biennium, general fund appropriations for higher ed have gone up 63% even as tuition has gone up 36%:


            If you’re suggesting a cause-and-effect relationship between declining appropriations for higher education and higher tuition costs, I think this pretty much explodes it.  Tuition is going up even as appropriations go up even faster.

            Plus, what then of tuition growth at private universities?  If the problem is entirely one of the taxpayers not doling out enough for colleges, then why is tuition going through the roof at universities that aren’t public?

            I hope you come back and continue the debate.

          • S_B_G

            I’m going to grant you that over the last couple of years, funding has gone up in ND. What about the  twenty years before that?  You quoted tuition increases since 1985. What about the state’s funding?

            Here’s a little survey of the landscape outside of ND, where 99.8% of the country’s population lives:


            “The compromise to close the state’s huge budget gap included cuts to
            state agencies of all kinds, but none were as deep as those to the
            state’s public colleges and universities. The state’s two systems were
            each cut by $650 million, and they each could lose $100 million more if
            the state’s optimistic revenue expectations do not materialize. For both
            systems, the $650 million is roughly a 20 percent cut of operating
            money from the state.

            This fall, for the first time, the University of California will take in
            more money from student tuition than from state finances.

            “There’s no question that California has had the most emulated public
            universities in the nation, and for the rest of the world,” said Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president of the American Council on Education.
            “What we are seeing is the abandonment of the state’s commitment to
            make California’s education available to all its citizens.”


            “The cash-strapped state of Illinois owes universities and
            community colleges more than three-quarters of a billion dollars,
            causing them to cut their current operating budgets.Public
            universities have received only $516 million of their $1.3 billion owed
            by the state since September 2009. This amount excludes $496
            million that has been appropriated to schools but not yet billed. 

            Stanley Ikenberry, president of the University of Illinois, has
            warned of a possible 18 percent hike in tuition. This could raise
            tuition and fees from $9,484 to $11,191. Recently, campus housing was
            raised by 2.8 percent.”


            “Public colleges and universities in Texas are absorbing a 5 percent cut in
            state funding by laying off employees, deferring repairs, scaling back
            travel and finding other savings. But the prospect of an additional
            reduction of 10 percent in the next two-year budget has some higher
            education leaders questioning the state’s commitment to boosting enrollment.”

            “Business leaders also have been strong supporters of the financial aid
            program, in part because they regard a more educated work force as essential
            to the state’s economy and to the state’s ability to compete globally.”


            “A year ago, higher-education budgets across the nation were trimmed $1.2 billion. The expected cuts this year: $5 billion.

            “They’ve long since been cutting deep into the bone,” said Michael
            Leachman of the nonpartisan Center on Budget Policies and Priorities,
            based in Washington.

            At least 22 states have scaled back K-12
            funding and at least 24 have made cuts in higher education for fiscal
            year 2012, the center found.

            To cover such shortfalls, experts
            say, school officials often reduce, or eliminate, personnel and programs
            vital to the most vulnerable populations: lower-income and minority

            Sure, there’s economic problems all over the place and times are tough. But, in order to compete in a global marketplace, we need a well educated workforce. It’s ridiculous to assert that higher education is an “entitlement”. It’s less that now than ever before. There is a profound public policy advantage to educate the population. In an increasingly global economy, we need an educated workforce, plain and simple. More and more, the burden is being shifted to individuals. To suggest that that is not the case is to ignore the facts or distort them.

        • Lianne

          The last cost estimation to CHANGE the name was near $800,000.  &500,000 will be spent on developing a new name and logo.  The people have spoken, loudly, I might add. They don’t want the name changed for many reasons. The NCAA created this mess.  We are trying to clean it up.  Quit trying to twist Rob’s or anyone’s stand on this issue.

  • Gloria Olson

    Being an Olson from Walsch / Cavalier Counties, and my Great Grandparents helping to settle the area – what the heck.?.  North Dakota in my 40 years of life has ALWAYS been known LOVINGLY as the Fighting Sioux or Sioux respectively.  Where is the National Civil Actions for us non-Native Americans.  Are you also going to be changing ALL state signs from an Indian Head to something else as well.?.  The Fighting Sioux, has been made state law – how many other state laws are you going to have N.D. vote on just to strip the states population from not only their American rights of voting, but also Heritage, Pride, Roots, Honor, and Respect.  We ALL know that the Native American people were here first, and this is not a disrespectful nor insensitive name for UND to be proud of, let alone N.D. period!  N.D. has ALWAYS shown AND given the Sioux people respect and honor.  The People of North Dakota have spoke, voted, decided by majority, & always known UND as The Fighting Sioux.  This is America, not a Nation of ‘lets let them vote and then take the winning majority rule away from them’, I am even sure that there were MANY Sioux nation people who voted for this to become law.  Get over it!  It [The Sioux] has been this way for decades upon decades upon decades, those in opposition have had plenty of time to argue this name.  LET IT BE.

  • schreib

    Dump the NCAA.  We don’t need those high and mighty racist elitists.

    • ec99

      Dump the NCAA and kiss UND athletics good bye.  That wouldn’t bother me any, but would disturb all those boosters who believe the only reason for UND is hockey.

    • S_B_G

      Now you are talking! I think the citizens of ND should demand that their legislators mandate that UND do just that!

  • spud

    Kill the bill.  Chances of judicial system going in your favor slim.  The university needs the big sky and NCAA more than the other way around.  Never base public policy on a hope and a prayer!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Daedalus

    Fact: Without a conference affiliation for all of the other (i.e., non-hockey) sports, there will be no sustainable athletic program in ANY sport at UND.  

    Fact: There will be extreme difficulty getting such a conference affiliation with NCAA sanctions around our head because of the nickname/logo issue.


    If you continue to say yes — then buy all of your volleyball, basketball, baseball, swimming and diving, golf, softball, soccer, tennis, and football, and yes, hockey memorabilia now, because you won’t be able to come back in three or four years and find it anywhere except on e-bay.  It’s your call what you want to say to legislators, but just because you can say anything, doesn’t necessarily mean that you should in this case…

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      Please.  We’ve heard this hyperbole hyped by the university folks and it’s just not credible.

      • spud

        So what do you think will happen when the special session on Monday debates this.  I say they kill the bill.  That is the safe thing.  They won’t allow themselves to get smacked in the mouth again by the “power” of the NCAA.   

        • Frankbc

          I’m hoping they will stand their ground and more importantly…STAND WITH US. If you allow one group to squash your religous acts then whats to stop the next group from coming in and taking more. Before you know it, your identity, your very basic principles of who you are as a person and a culture will be taken.

        • schreib

          We need to find their achilles heel.    Bad publicity is what they will get for sure. 

    • schreib

      Not true.  A number of other colleges do just fine without them..

  • Frankbc

    This is a fight we can win.  It’s about justice. Read the lawsuit.  
    Read the factual allegations that help establish that the Sioux people Need
    the Fighting Sioux name believing:
    1. We have given the name by religious actions in 1969. It cannot be taken away;
    2. the name promotes racial harmony and mends racial differences;
    3. the name promotes national recognition and knowledge of the Sioux way;
    4. the name promotes identity, public interest, knowledge and respect for the Sioux people.
    5. any and all actions done by the NCAA have not involved any input by the Tribes.

    This is OUR gift to UND and the State of North Dakota. The NCAA is wrong on so many levels with their policy. I guess you’d have to be a Native to fully understand what it is we are going through.

    • schreib

      You really hit the nail on the head.  I hope the ncaa will be embarrassed enough to back off.  They are only showing themselves to be high and mightly elitists.  They think they know better than anyone else.  I think it’s time to start another athletic association.  Call it ACAL  The American college athletic league.     Only common sense will be allowed.   By the way, they are still making money off the fighting Sioux logo.  Go figure.

    • spud

      I wouldn’t bet my farm on this and why the hell should legislature bet UND’s conference affiliation with Big Sky conference on it.  They won’t and should not.  Never let common sense get in the way.  If this lawsuit is even allowed to proceed it will be at least a couple of years more dragged down the road and winning said lawsuit is highly unlikely.  You won’t embarass the NCAA into nothing.  They already dropped the hammer on our governor and majority leader.  Heck the spirit lake tribe could very well repeal the appeal shortly.  NCAA has held all the cards in this game from the start and when you have the best hand you normally don’t fold it.

      • dave

        what your saying is let them walk all over us!  Is that the way you deal with your farm???  When are you going to quit giving up your freedoms!  Someone has got to take the NCAA down a notch they are only humans they are not gods tho they think they are!  GO SPIRIT LAKE FIGHTING SIOUX!!

        • FCSFAN

          Yes, Yes!!!!  und doesn’t need The Big Sky, they don’t need the NCAA, they play mainly NAIA football teams anyway.  Please don’t repeal and UND can join NAIA, switch to club hockey and actually be competitive in the other sports.  I vote und takes their nickname and goes home and joins NAIA, that is a win, win.  Now lets start getting behind this and start collecting signatures.

  • Rick Olson

    If the Legislature digs in its heels and refuses to repeal the nickname and logo law; the consequences will be dire for UND.

    The Big Sky Conference is not kidding.  They will rescind UND’s invitation to join their conference at the first opportunity to do so.  They do not want to be stuck in the middle of what has quickly become a very thorny legal and public relations nightmate.

    The NCAA will impose even stricter sanctions upon UND.  Without a conference, UND will find it very hard to fill their sports teams’ schedules.  This will leave them all alone like they’re on their own little island. 

    The Legislature needs to go ahead and pass the bill to repeal the nickname and logo law.  This will put the matter back into the hands of the Board of Higher Education and UND to settle.  I believe the Legislature and Governor Dalrymple overstepped their bounds by enacting and him signing into law this act. 

    • dave

      really Rick are you serious, you sound like the anti’s on Standing Rock who have silenced the people’s voices.  The legislator’s have listened to their constituents voices that is called “DEMOCRACY”!  Check into the Big Sky conference you will probably find out that they need UND more than UND needs them.  Big Sky has never said they would not let UND in!  Your probably one of those people who lay down and start crying when someone comes after you!  That is the image I get of people like you who do not want to tell the NCAA to take a flying hike!   I admire Spirit Lake for not laying down and giving up, but for standing up for what is right!  I’m thinking that is why they are called “The Fighting Sioux”! 

  • The Fighting Czech

    come on  you guys,  lets remember one of our countries core principles  “Profit over Principle”…. Its whats made this country what it is today….

  • Rick Olson

    Then explain to me why the Big Sky’s talking head, Thomas Douple, has on more than one occasion said the conference’s governing body has severe reservations about the whole thing?  A couple of times, Douple said that the Board of Presidents (the Big Sky’s governing body) could vote to rescind UND’s ticket into the Big Sky with a majority vote in favor. 

    Personally, and this coming from an NDSU alumni, I really don’t care if UND keeps the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo.  I think the Legislature would be well advised to go ahead and pass the repeal legislation and leave this in UND’s and the Board of Higher Education’s hands.  Nobody wants to be caught flat footed on this one.

    At least, if the courts wind up ruling against the NCAA and they lose their appeals, at least UND will be able to keep the nickname and logo in tact.  But if the ruling upholds the NCAA’s stand; then UND needs to be ready to move forward with retiring the logo and nickname. 

    • Factczecher

      Rick, I think you mean Doug Fullerton, not Douple. Douple is in charge of your team’s athletic conference, not the Big Sky.

      • Rick Olson

        Yep.  You’re right.  I got the names mixed up.  My bad.  But, still, this thing really doesn’t look too good for UND.  With all of this legal and political posturing, UND stands a big risk of becoming its own little island up there.  If the Big Sky does drop the hammer on UND, they’ll be forced to go independent and get whatever games they can get.  I suppose UND could try and meet with the Missouri Valley Conference and the Summit League in an attempt to join those conferences, but it seems to me that ship has already sailed.  I guess time will tell. 

  • Emlynn

    Eliminate the fighting susies and und

  • http://twitter.com/java101 Leon francis

    Hey Rob, where would a guy go to start a petition for U.N.D Fighting Sioux License plates??  

    • Rick Olson

      One can always make a suggestion to the Motor Vehicle Department in Bismarck.  This is the state agency which is responsible for the registration, titling and licensing of all motor vehicles in the state of North Dakota.  While the department has some discretion concerning “vanity” or other special license plates, oftentimes authorization for the department to issue such license plates needs to come in the form of a change in the law, which of course, would either have to be enacted by the Legislature; or through an initiative.

      • schreib

        Tell the NCAA to suck eggs.  We don’t need them.  The first responsibility for UND is to educate, sports are only a sideline.  If the Hockey players are good, there will be scouts looking for players.

        • Mayorhawk

          Send a message to all legislators to put THE FIGHTING SIOUX issue on the NEXT election, count only the votes cast by Standing Rock. That way those folks, MY FRIENDS, would have a vote on the issue. Then tell the NCAA to GET LOST. Also urge them to vote for both amendments, giving time for all legal actions to play out. (three years) Thanks Mayor Hawk Bismarck.