The University of North Dakota’s sports mascot is “The Fighting Sioux”. The “fighting” part is certainly apt – the use of the name has resulted in battles involving NCAA censure, several lawsuits, and a new state law designed to protect the name
The rules of the National Collegiate Athletic Association presently prohibit the use of Native American team mascots. North Dakota sought to retain its team name, and negotiated a deal with the NCAA: the school could continue to use its mascot if it could win the approval of the state's two Sioux tribes, otherwise it would have to change the name by August 15.
Opinion among local Native Americans appeared split – some people felt the name was an appropriate honor for heroic leaders such as Chief Sitting Bull; others felt the name was a cultural misappropriation or reinforced negative stereotypes.
The state’s Tribes did not reach a consensus on the name, and the University’s Board moved to retire the Fighting Sioux mascot. However, the North Dakota Legislature intervened and passed a law requiring the University to keep the name. As a result, the university's athletics program faces various NCAA sanctions and might be excluded from joining the Big Sky Conference.
Litigation was perhaps inevitable, but it has only muddled the issue further. Members of the Spirit Lake Tribe sued to keep the mascot, but their case was dismissed. A group of Native American students at the university has sued to get rid of the name and the logo of a Sioux warrior. The state legislature has passed a law requiring the state to sue the NCAA if it penalizes the university for using the name.