- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Two more universities have formally appealed the NCAA’s ruling restricting the use of American Indian nicknames and logos, encouraged by last week’s decision allowing Florida State University to keep its Seminoles mascot.

The University of North Dakota, home of the Fighting Sioux, and Central Michigan University, land of the Chippewas, filed appeals declaring that their strong relationship with local Indians should be considered a mitigating factor.

Last week, the NCAA removed Florida State from a list of 18 schools that were restricted from hosting post-season tournaments as a result of their Indian mascots, logos or nicknames.

The reason cited was the “unique relationship between the university and the Seminole Tribe of Florida,” which had approved a resolution supporting the use of the Seminoles nickname.

“We were going to wait until February, but when we saw what happened with Florida State, we decided to appeal immediately,” said Rich Morrison, Central Michigan University spokesman. “I’m not familiar with Florida State’s relationship with the Seminole Tribe, but I can’t imagine it could be any closer and warmer than our relationship with the Saginaw Chippewa.”

He said the Saginaw Chippewa tribe had approved several resolutions supporting the use of the Chippewa nickname, most recently in 2002, praising the university for using the name “as a sign of pride, honor and respect for the tribe’s rich heritage.”

Central Michigan also offers several programs for American Indians, including a programs office and museum. “I can’t imagine that they won’t rule in favor of our appeal,” Mr. Morrison said.

The University of North Dakota may have a tougher case. On Tuesday, the Spirit Lake Sioux tribe of North Dakota voted to withdraw its support of the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo, passing a resolution describing the nickname as “both dishonorable and an affront to the dignity and well being of the members of Spirit Lake.” The state’s other four Sioux tribes also have expressed disapproval of the Fighting Sioux name.

University President Charles Kupchella argued that his school enjoys “substantive positive relationships” with local Indian groups. The university offers 25 Indian education programs and enrolls more than 400 Indian students, he said.

If the NCAA rejects North Dakota’s appeal, the university may take the issue to court. The university signed a deal with the NCAA to host the regional Division I men’s hockey tournament in the spring, a contract that made no mention of the nickname.

The NCAA ruled Aug. 5 that the 18 universities would be restricted from hosting tournaments unless they covered up their Indian logos and team names during post-season play. Two weeks later, the organization said it would consider appeals from schools with the support of their “namesake” tribes.

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