Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe ex rel. Committee of Understanding and Respect v. NCAA Complaint

Here: Complaint

Ok, so is this really the Spirit Lake Sioux Nation? What is the Committee of Respect and Understanding? They are the same people who sued the State of North Dakota (unsuccessfully — Davidson v. State) in the last couple years seeking the same relief from the State Board of Education. Paragraph 4 of the complaint alleges they are “authorized by the Spirit Lake Tribe to act on its behalf and proceed in any legal manner it deems appropriate to assure that the University of North Dakota (UND) shall remain known as the ‘Fighting Sioux.'” Here is a link to Dr. Erich Longie’s blog, “Dakota Hoksina,” that strongly suggests the Committee of Respect and Understanding represents very few people at Spirit Lake and Standing Rock — and perhaps not the Nation, either. He probably doesn’t represent anyone either, but seems to have about the same authority as the Committee.

And who is “tribal attorney” Reed Soderstrom? His only prior Indian law experience appears to be in foreclosing on the mortgage of a Turtle Mountain Chippewa member, and his vehicle (Gustafson v Poitra and Ford Motor Credit v Poitra).

ICT coverage here.

What’s going on????

5 thoughts on “Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe ex rel. Committee of Understanding and Respect v. NCAA Complaint

  1. Richard Monette November 2, 2011 / 2:19 pm

    Hi Matthew, et al. Richard Monette here. Reed Sodorstrom is a fine attorney who has represented the Turtle Mountain Tribe and several tribal entities capably and professionally over the years. I have known Reed personally since we were on the same football field together as young college players. Reed’s weakness, if it can be called that, would also be his integrity in ensuring that everyone has a a right to be respresented before our governmental institutions, including our courts. Likewise, at least from our external perspective, the Spirit Lake Nation has the right to delegate functions such as this, and we should not summarily dismiss such an action. So, while I personally disagree with the Spirit Lake lawmakers delegation of this action, this issue is more complex than we sometimes abide at first, as attested in the Central Michigan Chippewas, Florida State Seminoles, and Utah Utes scenarios.
    All the best, Richard

  2. Matthew L.M. Fletcher November 2, 2011 / 3:13 pm

    Apologies to Mr. Sandstrom. My frustration stems from the very palpable pain and aguish experienced by American Indian students on campus. It appears to me the only significant support from American Indians, to the extent is can be called significant, to the name and logo is from people with no connection to campus. Richard, the harassment and emotional impact of being on that campus with the name and logo is incredible — and has been empirically proven. Time to let this agony end and conclude this saga. I do not believe any individual tribe or small group of tribal members can legitimately speak for those American Indian students on campus anymore. No good can come from keeping this name and logo. Not anymore.

  3. Sebastian Braun November 3, 2011 / 12:58 pm

    Apart from the question of whether or not who has and does not have authority to speak for the people of the Spirit Lake Nation: how could a federal court force a voluntary association to force one of its members to keep a name that might have been given to it in a ceremony? Even the argument over whether the name was actually given during the powwow is irrelevant. Assuming that the name has been given: isn’t it the right of the holder of the name to no longer use it? This lawsuit argues the same thing nickname supporters have been arguing for years: we honor you, therefore you must be honored. We gave you a name, therefore you must accept it – for all times? This is not the way it works – honoring and name giving require the supposed honoree to feel honored and the receiver of the name to want to bear it. Otherwise, the effort, the ritual, the ceremony, the speech act – the gesture – fails. Unilaterally insisting that it did not fail does not help. It still failed. I can insist that fish can ride bicycles – they still can’t. Please – people feel hurt (and let’s not pretend that this is simply an issue for Native students or people: this disrupts the university). Do we need to have a head count on how many people feel hurt and how many do not? It seems to me that the traditional idea is that people with power need to take pity on those who hurt and get rid of that which hurts them.

  4. vance gillette May 3, 2012 / 11:21 am

    hi re: fighting sioux name

    I am a member of three affilaited tirbes, attended und in the l970s,
    and am an attorney. My personal experience is: UND uses indians to get grants and funds, mainly run by white persons. Indians are used at Tokens, which is the Sioux name. E.g. Englestad built the sports arena that sells jerseys, shirts and other pictures with the name fffin sioiux.
    THis is a money machine that has been stopped in its tracks by the
    NCAA.

    Next, the arrogant white legislators from the Fargo ND area
    enacted a law that “legalized” the Sioux name — then repealed the law.
    THis opened the door for the plaintitfs to sue and their claim was properly
    rejected in the federal court.

    Point: there are many issues at Fort Totten Res aka Spirit lake sioux nation, that need attention. But these issues are ignored, and time is wasted on a Fake Logo, that treats Indians as sub-human beings.

    20 years from now, the historians will look at at North Dakota and say: what a bunch of red neck idiots who use Indians as symbols to rake in money selling T shirts. The fake rationale of “it our white history” is a scam.

    vance gillette indian attorney in no dak
    Ft Berthold Indian Reservation

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