In this March 22, 2010, file photo hockey sweaters displaying the University of North Dakota's Fighting Sioux nickname and American Indian head logo are displayed in a souvenir shop inside the Ralph Engelstad Arena on the UND campus in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Supporters of the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo continue to hold out hope for its survival, even as UND President Robert Kelley maps out plans to retire the moniker.

Native American Tribe Defends Fighting Sioux Logo


The controversy between the NCAA, the University of North Dakota (UND) and two Sioux tribes in the state continues—even after most thought the retirement of the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo was decided.

Now, the Spirit Lake Tribe has filed an injunction in tribal court to keep the nickname.

Not only has the tribe filed an injunction for the school to keep the logo, it has asked that licensing and merchandising rights be turned over to the Spirit Lake Tribe.

Frank Blackcloud, Spirit Lake’s spokesperson, told KXMB CBS 12 that the use of Fighting Sioux has always been respectful and makes him feel proud.

“We gave UND permission years ago this was a gift and that’s what the NCAA doesn't understand, nobody has the right to take that gift away expect a Sioux tribe and the only reason we would take it away is if they were doing dishonor to the Sioux name and the aren't doing that,” he told the TV station. “They are holding it respectfully and with honor and in it's tradition—and are doing everything proper.”

But Spirit Lake is only one of two Native American nations the NCAA required approval from so the school could keep using the mascot and name. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the other federally recognized Sioux tribe in North Dakota, also has to approve of the name. But that approval hasn’t happened, the Standing Rock Tribal Council actually passed a resolution voting against use of the Fighting Sioux name.

Some students at UND also oppose the nickname, and on August 10 a group of them filed a suit asking the nickname be retired. The complaint claims that the nickname violates the students’ civil rights and that it “has had and continues to have a discriminatory and profoundly negative impact on plaintiffs.”

It seems the fate of the Fighting Sioux still hangs in the balance as the NCAA continues to threaten sanctions if the name isn’t retired.

It’s interesting to note that the logo was actually designed by Bennett Brien, a Native American artist who graduated from UND with a master of find arts degree. has an explanation of the design from the artist as well as a history of the Fighting Sioux logo.

“The feathers symbolize the outstanding rewards that students, faculty, staff and alumni will achieve for academic, athletic and lifelong excellence. The determined look in the eyes symbolizes fortitude and never giving up and the focus necessary for sustained academic, athletics and lifelong achievement,” the website quotes the artist. “The paint on the cheekbone symbolizes that life can be a battle and we have daily struggles. The color green symbolizes the development of young people and their growth at the University of North Dakota. The color yellow symbolizes the sun, which provides humanity light and warmth in order that life may continue. The color red symbolizes the lifeblood that has been poured out to make our state and peoples great."

Indian Country Today Media Network will continue to follow this story as new developments come to light.

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