Members of the Spirit Lake Sioux tribe recently presented a resolution demanding modification of the University of North Dakota’s Fighting Sioux logo. Tribal members said the school’s Indian-head emblem is "dishonorable and an affront to the dignity and well being" of its community. Their formal opposition was issued on the same day North Dakota appealed to the NCAA to remove them from the list of schools with Native American mascots that have been deemed hostile and offensive.

With the strong disapproval from the Spirit Lake Sioux, North Dakota will have a much more difficult time convincing the NCAA executive committee that their nickname does not denigrate Sioux culture. Unlike Florida State University, who received solid backing from Florida’s Seminole Tribe for the school’s portrayal of Chief Osceola, albeit historically inaccurate, Spirit Lake members have accused North Dakota of reneging on its promise to introduce students to their tribal traditions. Their agreement with the university, according to former tribal chairman Skip Longie, included required visits to all of the state’s Indian reservations.

If the NCAA determines that North Dakota was slack in its arrangement with the Spirit Lake Sioux, this will definitely garner more support for Native Americans who disapprove of the use of Indian mascots. When the NCAA executive committee issued its ban on Indian nicknames, mascots and imagery on Aug. 5, many accused the organization of being too politically correct. It is understandable, given the NCAA’s problems in dealing with rogue boosters and recruiting violations, that some alumni of the schools effected believe members of the executive committee are riding horses higher than Chief Osceola’s appaloosa. Native American opposition to Indian mascots, however, cannot be deemed pretentious.

Native Americans have been adversely caricatured in sporting traditions, which include war chanting, tomahawk chopping and war dances in buckskins. Schools have abolished many of the most insulting war dances, but some Native Americans consider the war chants and tomahawk chopping done at schools like Florida State as demeaning.

David Narcomey, an Oklahoma Seminole tribal leader, tried to pass a resolution denouncing the use of native mascots and imagery and specifically targeted FSU, but it was defeated by an 18-2 vote. The Seminole Nation of Oklahoma has given Florida State its approval and Narcomey is not an official spokesman; nevertheless, he and the minority who are offended by Florida State and other schools using Indian mascots deserve to be heard.

What Narcomey and other Seminoles find offensive about the depiction of FSU’s Chief Osceola are the historical errors. Seminoles did not wear war paint and it was unlikely they rode appaloosa horses. While the Florida Seminole Tribe has approved these variations, Narcomey and other Oklahoma Seminoles continue to voice their disapproval through organizations such as the National Congress of American Indians, which renounces native mascots.

The common retort to Narcomey and Native Americans who oppose Indian mascots is that schools are honoring their heritage. But how can they feel honored seeing thousands of fans with painted faces cheering a mascot that is an aberration of their ancestors? Other ethnic groups of color would not tolerate such mockery. For example, African Americans living in New York are proud of the rich, artistic heritage of the Harlem Renaissance, but they would never allow a team to be called the New York Negroes. Imagine the protest that would arise from an erroneous moonwalking spectacle performed by mascots sporting conks and zoot suits on a football field.

Native Americans, unfortunately, have not been as successful as African Americans in ridding our culture of negative stereotypes. Although the NCAA recently ruled that Florida State could keep its Seminole nickname, Longie and the Spirit Lake Sioux are hoping they will force North Dakota to adhere to their concerns. No matter your opinion on the NCAA and its flaws, it has not let Native American appeals fall on deaf ears, as each school effected by the ban will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. At least in this instance, the NCAA recognizes that the use of native mascots is not viewed by all as just fun and games.