N.D. Senate passes Fighting Sioux nickname billThe North Dakota Senate voted today to approve legislation ordering UND to retain its controversial Fighting Sioux nickname and Indian-head logo.
By: Chuck Haga, Grand Forks Herald
The North Dakota Senate voted today to approve legislation ordering UND to retain its controversial Fighting Sioux nickname and Indian-head logo.
The vote was 28-15 with four senators absent and not voting, and came after a massive e-mail lobbying campaign that senators said heavily favored approval and clogged members’ e-mail accounts.
The bill, passed earlier by the House on a 65-28 vote, goes now to Gov. Jack Dalrymple, who has not indicated whether he will sign it. Dalrymple has asked Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley, a former federal prosecutor, to research potential constitutional problems with the bill.
In addition to writing the Fighting Sioux nickname into state law, the bill directs Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem to consider suing the NCAA if the athletics association again threatens sanctions against the university.
Stenehjem sued the NCAA on behalf of the State Board of Higher Education when the association said UND would lose the right to host post-season championships or participate in post-season play wearing Fighting Sioux insignia if it did not comply with an NCAA rule banning Indian-themed nicknames, logos and mascots.
In a 2007 settlement agreement, the NCAA gave UND and the higher education board three years to win authorization from the Standing Rock and Spirit Lake Sioux tribes to continue using the name. Standing Rock voters gave their consent, but efforts to arrange a vote at Standing Rock or persuade the tribal council to change its longstanding opposition failed.
The state board directed UND in April 2010 to begin its transition away from the 80-year-old nickname, and UND President Robert Kelley immediately announced formation of transition task groups to effect the change by Aug. 15, 2011.