UND answers NCAA

UND president writes an open letter to NCAA on their “hostile/abusive” characterization of the use of any Indian phenomenology.

I think you should find my confusion here understandable, since obviously if we were to call our teams “The Dakotans,” we would actually be in more direct violation of what apparently you are trying to establish as a rule, even though this is the name of our state. This situation, of course, is not unlike that faced by our sister institution in Illinois.

Is it only when some well-meaning people object to the use of the names of tribes? If so, what standard did you use to decide where the line from acceptable to “hostile” and “abusive” is crossed? We note that you exempted a school with a certain percentage of American Indian students. We have more than 400 American Indian students here. Who decided that a certain percentage was okay, but our percentage was not? Where is the line between okay and hostile/abusive?

We have two Sioux tribes based here in North Dakota. One has, in fact, objected to our use of the name, “Sioux,” applied to our sports teams. The other said it was okay, provided that we took steps to ensure that some good comes of it, in educating people and students about the cultural heritage of this region. This mix of opinions is apparently not unlike that faced by our sister institution in Florida.

Is it only about applying names to sports teams? If so, would this be extended to the use of the names of all people, or is it just American Indians? Why would you exempt the “Fighting Irish” from your consideration, for example? Or “Vikings,” which are really fighting Scandinavians, or “Warriors,” which I suppose could be described as fighting anybodies? Wouldn’t it be “discrimination on account of race” to have a policy that applies to Indians but not to Scandinavians or the Irish, or anybody else for that matter? This seems especially profound in light of a letter to me from President Brand (8/9/05) in which he, in very broad-brush fashion and inconsistent with the NCAA’s recent much narrower pronouncement, said, “we believe that mascots, nicknames or images deemed hostile or abusive in terms of race, ethnicity or national origin should not be visible at our events.” (my emphasis)