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N.D House says UND must keep Fighting Sioux name
Saturday, March 12 2011
 
Written by Circle News Staff,
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Setting up a potential clash with the NCAA, the North Dakota House approved a bill that requires the University of North Dakota to keep its Fighting Sioux athletics nickname. The university has been preparing to drop the nickname and its American Indian head logo this summer as part of a negotiated lawsuit settlement with the NCAA, which considers both to be hostile and abusive to American Indians.
House members voted 65-28 to approve legislation that requires UND to keep the nickname and logo, and directs Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem to consider an antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA if any penalties result.
The bill now goes to the North Dakota Senate for its review. An NCAA spokeswoman, Gail Dent, declined to comment on the House vote.
Supporters of the measure argued that North Dakota's Board of Higher Education, in deciding to discard the nickname and logo, ignored strong public sentiment in favor of both. Opponents of the nickname and logo say they are racist and demeaning.
Separately, representatives voted down two related bills that required UND to keep the nickname unless the members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe voted to revoke permission for using it. Neither bill got more than eight votes in favor.
The tribe's governing council has approved several resolutions opposing the nickname, but it has never been the subject of a reservation vote. North Dakota's other major Sioux tribe, the Spirit Lake Sioux, endorsed the nickname and logo in an April 2009 referendum.
Opponents of the proposal said it would ignore years of review of the issue by the Board of Higher Education and UND that resulted in the decision to discard the nickname and logo.
The NCAA declared the American Indian nicknames of more than a dozen colleges, including UND, to be "hostile and abusive" in 2005.
The state sued, and the two sides settled out of court in October 2007, with UND agreeing to retire the nickname if the school could not get the consent of the Spirit Lake and Standing Rock Sioux tribes to continue using it. If UND keeps the Fighting Sioux nickname, the school may be barred from hosting NCAA postseason tournaments.

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