Voters turned out in record numbers and sadly, reluctantly voted to allow UND to retire the Fighting Sioux nickname. As Tom Dennis of the GF Herald put it, “Neither UND nor the state is choosing this outcome willingly. Instead, they’re being forced to retire the name by the NCAA, which is insisting on the outcome as an exercise of its monopoly power.”
Dennis said opponents of the Fighting Sioux nickname could not gain traction for many years, until they were able to use the NCAA as a lever. He said “the university called itself the Fighting Sioux and seemed willing to to so forever, to the great delight of vast numbers of North Dakotans.” An article by Herald writer Chuck Haga was headed “Fighting Sioux nickname: Harmful, but to whom?” He wrote that there was no longer much discussion about the nickname being harmful and abusive -- concerns shifted to harm the NCAA might do UND. Original nickname opponents are delighted their cause won, but dismayed their grievances all but disappeared in the process.
Tammy Washburn of Jamestown reflected the thoughts of many Nodaks and furnished the quote of the week: “I’m not a UND alum — just tired of giving in to something that is wrong. Little by little everything the majority stands for or believes in is being taken away because we choose to ignore what is right or truthful — not just on this issue but on many others as well. Fighting Sioux forever!”
Voters in ND understood the issues and the candidates. State Rep. RaeAnn Kelsch of Mandan was thought to be an effective legislator, but when voters learned that she and her husband were serial tax evaders -- it was all over. Kelsch received only 20 percent of the vote in a reelection effort.
You might say 2007 was “The Year of the Criminal” in ND. That year had many criminal highlights, but no one was busier than the Twin Buttes School Board on the Ft. Berthold Reservation. They pillaged school district assets and seven board members and staff went to prison. Twin Buttes is the portion of the reservation on the south side of Lake Sakakawea. It is almost as if when you are elected in Twin Buttes you are given a tribal checkbook. One current tribal council member is not a resident and does not attend meetings, but the worst part is that when he is not in jail, he drives a tribal vehicle, has a suspended driver’s license and arranges tribal financial favors for his relatives. This is too much, even for normally tolerant Twin Buttes residents, they are petitioning to remove Barry Benson from office.
Another transaction on the Ft Berthold Reservation should start amber lights blinking. A consultancy has received preliminary approval from the Three Affiliated Tribes to build 1,000 crew camp rooms plus hotels and restaurants on the reservation in exchange for later building 200 single-family homes for tribal members. The capital to build the homes is to come from crew camp revenue. In other words, the crew camps are assured, the homes are not.
The Turtle Mt. Reservation is notorious for corruption and is located on the Canadian border far from any population area. Grand Forks is 200 miles away -- Minot 120 miles away. The region is losing population and experiencing overland flooding. Despite its obviously bad location, the reservation casino is doubling down, expanding its hotel from 100 rooms to 200 rooms and building a new casino. Who would lend to such a project? Answer: The reservation’s Turtle Mt. State Bank.
Marijuana, morphine and oxycodone are widely sold on the Standing Rock Reservation. After FBI and BIA investigations, 17 tribal members have been charged with drug possession or distribution. In similar cases, prescription drugs were usually obtained or stolen from the Indian Health Service.
In front of an audience, a large woman in an orange T-shirt burst through a door erected on a stage. She shrieked and clasped her hands to flushed cheeks. She was embraced by her equally large husband. The celebrant was a Kindred woman who had just won a $500,000 house in West Fargo. The 800 finalists in the lottery were narrowed down to 25 -- only one of which had the key that fit the door. She was the 18th person to try the door.
It is said Warren Buffett, the world’s most famous investor, is little influenced by fear or greed. He invests when others fear; he holds back when others become greedy. Investors currently fear and hate newspapers, which Buffett is buying. His Berkshire Hathaway has purchased an interest in Lee Enterprises, the publisher of The Bismarck Tribune and nearly 50 other newspapers. Lee recently reorganized in bankruptcy.
Almost every popular national chain store is in Fargo. Forum columnist Sherri Richards says there is a glaring exception -- Fargo does not have a Trader Joe’s. The writer said that didn’t seem like a big deal until she visited a Trader Joe’s in Minnesota. Now, she can hardly live without one. She provided a list of her favorite TJ goodies and bargains. In many states, Trader Joe’s (the home of 2 Buck Chuck) is a favorite haunt of the retired set.
Farmwife Margaret Weatherly (102) of Jamestown was almost the last of a line. She is survived by a brother, but outlived 11 brothers and sisters. Margaret organized family reunions and wrote a history of her father’s family. One of her proudest achievements -- a 50-year membership in the Happy Homes Homemakers.
Tribune columnist Clay Jenkinson says, “I extoll the greatness and beauty of North Dakota wherever I go in the world.” He invited his Sacramento friend Cathilea to visit him in Bismarck. Cathilea was a doubter, but began to swing around when her first day in Bismarck was beautiful and weather perfect. The next day was a different story. Jenkinson said it was “might just blow you down” windy with the air filled with particles of dirt. Cathilea was horrified and concluded “no rational being would choose to live in North Dakota.” Perhaps, before visiting, she should have read Jenkinson’s 2007 essay, “Dominated By The Wind,” in which he said the state is a “stark, windswept, treeless place” and “North Dakotans live in nature and pay it the respect it demands.”
DAKTOIDS: ND’s high school graduation rate at 86% is second highest in the nation. The state’s American Indians graduate at a rate of 55% . . . Where did all that Bakken oil originate? You may be surprised to learn that most came from dead sea life. Land veggies turned into coal . . . Miss Badlands and Miss Oil Country didn’t make it, but Miss Ft. Abercrombie (Rosemary Sauvageau, a Fargo musician) won the Miss North Dakota title . . . A record 33% of eligible ND voters participated in the June primary. Voters in reservation counties participated at about half that rate -- Sioux County had less than 350 voters.