Fargo -- The following is the text of the statement issued by the #SaveTheSioux Ballot Measures Committee and Spirit Lake Committee for Understanding and Respect:
We appreciate all the support and positive energy from the citizens of North Dakota who are standing with us on truth and principle with our petitions. We thank you all.
Ø For those of you who are undecided in this debate, we offer you the opportunity to open your hearts and minds and search for the truth, question the information and challenge the establishment through our constitutional process.
Ø We only ask for the opportunity for our voice to be heard. We ask that all the people may vote on this important issue.
Ø Understand that we do not wish any harm to come to UND, or its students.
We thank the president of UND in his decision to re-instate the Fighting Sioux name and logo at UND.
Ø We understand the courage that it takes for one to lead in times of adversity and challenge.
Ø We believe the University of North Dakota is a great institution with a rich tradition of both academic and athletic excellence.
Ø We believe that the Fighting Sioux name is a great name for a great institution.
Ø We have 80 years of Sioux Pride and tradition that has branded UND as the Fighting Sioux that has reached an unprecedented level on a national platform.
UND has become a champion for the Native American Indian programs on campus. The past generations of leadership at UND has embraced the relationship with the Natives of our state. UND has become a beacon that has helped build and create opportunities for our young on the reservations.
Ø This relationship has been created and cultivated from the special bond that the Fighting Sioux name has brought to UND and all Native Americans.
Ø We see this debate as an excellent opportunity for UND and the Native Americans to triple the efforts to, and become the national model for, -- all institutions for promoting cultural diversity, acceptance, and tolerance while providing unique opportunities for both cultures to learn about each other’s past heritage.
We have entered into this debate in support of the gift that was bestowed upon UND by our forefathers some 80 years ago.
Ø We ask for understanding and respect from those who oppose our position, as we stand steadfast with our cultural & religious beliefs of honoring our fathers’ wishes in supporting their gift to UND to be known as the Fighting Sioux.
Ø As a peaceful people, we ask your understanding that this Symbol as the Fighting Sioux represents our race, creed, the our color of our skin, our courage, and our religious beliefs.
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Ø Our Elders gave this gift to UND with careful consideration. Our culture looks 7 generations ahead so as to do no harm to our future generations. We ask those who oppose our efforts to walk with us.
Ø We see this debate as having potentially tremendous positive energy for all parties. Collegiate athletics demands its athletes carry a strong heart, a willing and fighting spirit to compete fairly and honorably.
Ø The Fighting Sioux name enshrines all these admirable characteristics of true champions.
Ø The Fighting Sioux Symbol has brought two warring cultures together under one name as the Fighting Sioux on a national platform.
Ø The Fighting Sioux Symbol has bonded the people of this state and those who have walked the campus of UND around an identity that radiates these admirable characteristics as Fighting Sioux.
Ø When visitors come to our great state and experience the excitement of the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux campus, they leave with a great impression of who we are as people of North Dakota.
We understand the need for a governing body in collegiate athletics and the role of the NCAA. We understand that the NCAA is a private voluntary association of more than 1,200 colleges, universities, athletics conferences and related organizations.
Ø The NCAA’s primary purpose is to regulate and promote intercollegiate athletics in a manner that fully integrates athletic programs with the academic mission of higher education and student-athletes within the student body.
Ø They have an excellent track record of serving the student athletes in all divisions.
We acknowledge the statement by the NCAA that one of the primary factors that was considered by the NCAA regarding the use of Native Imagery was to seek an unambiguous and affirmative approval of the use of a mascot, nickname or imagery by a “namesake” tribe representing that image.
In this statement the NCAA spoke regarding exceptions to the policy of Native Imagery determined that:
The decision to grant exceptions was based on the endorsement of the “namesake” tribe and is grounded in respect for the authority of a Native American tribe to ultimately make decisions on those issues that directly impact that tribe.
“We believe that the decision of a sovereign tribe regarding when and how its name and imagery can be used must be respected, even when others may not agree. In some instances, the NCAA recognizes that following the wishes of the namesake tribe may not reduce the potential for hostile or abusive behavior in the eyes of many or even most Native Americans. However, we believe that ignoring the opinions of those tribes would be tyranny of the majority and an even greater injustice.”
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6 Native Americans have been granted this exemption
WE AGREE. THAT IS WHY WE ARE STANDING HERE TODAY.
We seek the same exception and considerations for the Fighting Sioux Symbol that has been granted to others.
Ø We applaud the efforts of the NCAA and its members in their efforts to protect the Native Americans from neither being stereotyped nor caricatured at NCAA championship events.
ØWe appreciate their desire to be consistent with the core principles of cultural diversity, civility, respect and nondiscrimination.
We have witnessed a transition from hostile and abusive mascots and logos, to a direct attack on the Fighting Sioux name and Symbol as the sole source of harm to UND and its students. That somehow carrying the Fighting Sioux name will keep UND Athletics out of a Conference. We are told that it is time to move on and let it go.
We remind those that promote cultural diversity, civility, tolerance and nondiscriminatory policies what the Fighting Sioux name and Symbol represents. Are they unwilling to allow UND to carry our name that represents our race, our creed, our color of our skin, our religious beliefs?
Ø Now, somehow after 80 years, our name has become a threat to UND as an institution for higher learning and athletics as members of the NCAA .
Ø We question these statements and policy shift for what it is.
THE FIGHTING SIOUX NAME AND SYMBOL HAS DONE NOTHING TO HARM UND AND ITS STUDENT ATHLETES. THERE ARE 80 YEARS OF TRADITION, HONOR, PRIDE AND RESPECT TO DEMONSTRATE THIS.
We challenged these statements about the harm the Fighting Sioux name and Symbol bring to UND. It would appear to us that someone is holding these student athletes hostages for their own purposes and against its own stated policies. They are speaking with two tongues.
We ask Who is really hurting the student athletes at UND? Where is the true source of this harm coming from?
We step forward and boldy state that the real source of the harm is the NCAA and its polices and sanctions against UND, not the Fighting Sioux name and Symbol.
We understand that this debate has challenged the resolve of both sides for many months. In The 2007 Settlement Agreement reached with the NCAA, UND, and the SBofHE in which they stated:
UND recognizes that North Dakota Sioux Tribes, as descendants of the indigenous people of the Northern Great Plains who UND strives to honor with its nickname, have important contributions in determining whether, to what extent and in what manner the “Sioux” name and the “Fighting Sioux” nickname and logo should be continue to be used in conjunction with the athletic tradition at UND.”
Page 4 of 5 - This Settlement Agreement does not include the indigenous people of the Great Plains, which it purports or seeks to protect.
Ø Somehow we have been excluded from this debate, even though words are spoken that leads one to believe they are serious about bringing honor and respect to our name., but that is misleading and are false words.
Because we have been excluded and silenced in this debate, we have filed a 12-count lawsuit in Federal Court against the NCAA and its policies.
The people of North Dakota spoken through their representatives and enacted into law for UND keep the Fighting Sioux name. This law was over turned by repeal of the legislature brought by the board of higher education. The SBofHE did not stand or lobby against the constitutionality of the law on the initial enacting, nor did they act against it.
The grass roots efforts gathered over 17,200 petitions across North Dakota in 50 days. That is quite a feat. That says something about how the people of North Dakota feel about this issue.
We are confident that great things can be done at UND as the Fighting Sioux.
Ø The Fighting Sioux name and Symbol represents more than just an athletic team or a school.
Ø It represents not only UND and all of its past, current and future alumni, it also represents our history of our land and the people who settled here and lived generations long ago.
There are many challenges that we face routinely and do so with honor, pride and respect for our fellow man.
We believe that the Fighting Sioux name and Symbol is something special… something sacred.
Ø It was given to UND as a gift bestowed by our Elders generations ago.
Ø It was given by our sacred religious ceremony and sealed by our sacred Pipe Ceremony in 1969 where President Starcher was made an honorary tribal chief. This blessing upon President Starcher is one of our highest honors.
Ø It has branded all of what UND is. It has given UND a brand.
Ø The Fighting Sioux name and Symbol has brought two cultures together under one name.
We stand on truth and principle. There has been no proof of hostility or abuse; there has been no proof of harm to UND or its student body, or its student athletes.
We see the threats of harming UND as saber rattling as an intend to create fear in the public. We have 80 years of proof of nothing but positive. It is not time to move on.
We ask the NCAA, UND, the SBofHE and the State of ND to do the right thing. Instead of destroying something special, we encourage all people to stand with us and build upon the great traditions of our state and our institutions.
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We encourage the citizens of North Dakota to stand with us in defense of what is sacred to all of us and join us in efforts to preserve our heritage.
Our rights are your rights. We seek the process afforded to us through our laws. The constitution protects us from an over reaching government and an abuse of power.
We, the Sioux people, greatly appreciate all the respect and honor people have given our name these past 80 years. We ask that all people may vote, vote for our name and all of our dignity.