Yesterday, the University of North Dakota’s Student Government was unable to reach the two-thirds majority vote needed to overturn a veto by UND’s student president that would have granted funding for the University of North Dakota’s Indian Association’s (UNDIA) cultural meal. The vote was 7-4 in favor of granting the $2,000.
The meal, known as the “Buffalo Feed,” is a meal provided by UNDIA students as part of the ‘Time Out Week’ pow wow. The food offered by students is a way to express appreciation and share culture with guests, volunteers and attendees.
The evening before that vote, on Wednesday, UND Student Body President Nick Creamer appeared on the local television news program 6:30 POV and discussed his position. He also mentioned his support for the sorority that posted the banner that said “You Can Take Away Our Mascot, But You Can’t Take Away Our Pride.”
The 6:30 POV Program host Chris Berg also asked Creamer why he posted the tweet which simply stated: #FightingSiouxForever, and if he regretted it.
Creamer said that he did not think the sorority had a racist intention and that he should not have tweeted it, but Creamer did not delete his tweet.
The 6:30 POV program then invited former UNDIA president BJ Rainbow to share his opinion on the vote and the mood on the UND campus. Rainbow described how the first ceremonies in support of the Fighting Sioux logo were in support of positive things happening, which has not been the case in the logo’s history.
Jayde Serich, a senior at University of North Dakota, who is the vice president of the Indian Studies Association was present during the vote by the student government. She expressed disappointment with the outcome.
“The voting didn’t go how I thought, I believed there would be a change in support from the student senate, but the votes failed to motion a veto,” Serich said. “I only hope that the student senate and other students take up the offer of sharing in UNDIA’s Wacipi Powwow. I think it would be a great experience for them and a good learning opportunity, and maybe we can come together as a student body in the future.”
During the special session held by the UND Student Senate, students were also given the opportunity to share their opinions before the vote. One student spoke to the senate and expressed that the senators did not even concern themselves with who Native people are. “You do not care to even come to our pow wow. You are our leaders, but you do not come,” she said.
Other students expressed anger at being told they had mismanaged their money and were just asking for $2,000 more. The students pointed out that they were given $24,000 in 2013 and $20,000 in 2014. The entire event costs the UNDIA $150,000 and $130,000 was raised by the students.
Some students also dressed in regalia to appeal to the student senators – one young female student said, “If you come, I’ll buy you a taco.”
After a student senator appealed to his senators to “do the right thing” in support of overturning the veto, it was not overturned with a 7-4 vote.
Another student, Prairie Rose Seminole expressed her position. “Pretty disappointed with the vote today,” said Rose. “It would have been nice to see a two-thirds overturn of the veto.
Who knew it was going to be so easy to find a connection to unsettled tension and animosity toward American Indians and the mascot change the name movement.”
But, Seminole said that in light of the decision, there were positive aspects to consider.
“I’m glad that the Time Out Week events got publicity out of these unfortunate decisions. I would have loved to see the Student Senate really set an example of nurturing an environment that showed they celebrate community.”
“I am very proud of the UNDIA students who even through all of this said, we are one UND. [And] Regardless of your vote, come and celebrate with us this weekend. Pretty stellar,” Seminole said.
And the pow wow will be pretty stellar now that the students don’t need to worry about raising the additional money. Cetan Corp President Brad Scott and hosts of the Native Trailblazers Radio program said in a news release that they would pay the remaining funds needed. The students still needed $1,500, so both organizations will split the amount.
“The Pow Wow is a long-term principled tradition in our community that provides us with unique privilege to show respect to our elders and honor the hard-working volunteers,” Scott said in a new release. “For this reason alone, regardless of any temporary disagreements, we should put our elders and volunteers interests’ first. That’s why I teamed up with the hosts of the Native Trailblazers Radio show to bridge the shortage in funds with my donation to ensure they get the respect they deserve with a nice meal. They don’t deserve to be caught in the middle of strife.”
The event was lived streamed by @UneditedMedia and is available here.