Democratic-NPL leaders in the North Dakota Legislature are asking for an upcoming meeting to be open to the media and public as state and NCAA officials meet to discuss the University of North Dakota’s Fighting Sioux nickname and logo.
Democratic Senate and House caucus leaders sent a letter Wednesday to Jon Backes, president of the State Board of Higher Education, requesting that the April 22 meeting be open and accessible. The leaders also said representatives from the Spirit Lake and Standing Rock Sioux tribes be invited to the meeting, which was scheduled shortly after the Legislature passed House Bill 1263 earlier this session.
The bill prohibits UND and the State Board of Higher Education from retiring the Fighting Sioux nickname, which was required under the terms of a 2007 lawsuit settlement with the NCAA unless the university could secure the approval of both namesake tribes in the state to continue using the nickname and logo.
Senate Minority Leader Ryan Taylor, D-Towner, and House Minority Leader Jerry Kelsh, D-Fullerton, said the meeting should be open to the press and citizens, “as is in accordance with North Dakota’s open records law and tradition.” You can read the full letter on the Herald’s website, and Chuck Haga will have more about this story in tomorrow’s paper. Here’s part of the letter:
â€œThe reason for the first request is because North Dakota strives to be an open, transparent government. The Dem-NPL caucuses have furthered this cause this session by introducing legislation creating an ethics committee, reporting outside trips taken by legislators, and additional reporting for corporate campaign contributions. We consider open and accessible meetings to be a tenet of good government and feel strongly that the meeting be open.â€
â€œIn addition, we think it is important to include representatives from tribal government should they wish to attend the meeting. Both tribes were mentioned in the settlement between the NCAA and the State of North Dakota, and they should be invited to the meeting between those two parties.â€