GRAND FORKS, N.D.
The judge hearing arguments in a lawsuit over the University of North Dakota’s Fighting Sioux nickname belonged to a student group in the 1960s whose members wore a cartoon American Indian mascot on their jackets, The Forum reports in a copyright story.
Judge Lawrence Jahnke was a member in the early 1960s of UND’s Golden Feather pep club, a group limited to 30 male members each year, the newspaper reported Wednesday.
The Forum said it confirmed the information through official UND archives and tried unsuccessfully to contact the judge for comment.
His clerk said he does not comment on an ongoing court case.
UND is challenging an NCAA ban on the use of the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo in postseason play. The NCAA considers the nickname and logo hostile and abusive.
Jahnke is a UND graduate as are attorneys in the case: Wick Corwin, who represents the NCAA and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, who represents the state.
The Golden Feather group, founded in 1956, is credited with creating “Sammy the Sioux,” a cartoonish mascot that was discontinued in the early 1970s, according to UND archives.
Golden Feather “promoted various kinds of ‘rah rah’ activities centered, naturally enough, on Indian themes,” writes UND alumnus David Vorland in a historical summary of the Fighting Sioux name and logo, found on UND’s Web site. The club was disbanded by UND in 1977 due to financial problems.
A pretrial hearing in the nickname lawsuit case is set for Nov. 5.
In a ruling Monday, Jahnke denied a motion filed by the Forum Communications Co., to unseal files in the lawsuit, saying they should remain sealed to help the two sides reach a settlement. He also said the media paid too much attention to the divisiveness of the issue and not enough on UND’s “strong and continuing efforts” to promote cultural diversity.
Information from: The Forum, http://www.in-forum.com
— Associated Press
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