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Spirit Lake issues nickname resolution

The Spirit Lake Tribal Council has approved a resolution recognizing the tribe's support of UND's Fighting Sioux nickname. According to nickname opponent Terry Morgan, whose mother is tribal Chairwoman Myra Pearson, confirmed that the council did...

The Spirit Lake Tribal Council has approved a resolution recognizing the tribe's support of UND's Fighting Sioux nickname.

According to nickname opponent Terry Morgan, whose mother is tribal Chairwoman Myra Pearson, confirmed that the council did make the decision. He said that rather than embracing the nickname, the council simply acknowledged the vote.

In the tribe's April election, 67 percent of tribal members voted to support the nickname.

It was part of an effort by nickname supporters to win the council's blessings for the controversial nickname. The settlement between UND and the NCAA, which consider American Indian nicknames to be hostile and abusive, requires the university to win formal support from councils at Spirit Lake and Standing Rock.

Morgan said he doesn't believe the resolution is the support UND needs at all.

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The resolution itself has this to say:

"Now therefore be it resolved that the Tribal Council goes on record to officially accept election results of April 23, 2009, for University of North Dakota logo and name retention."

"Be it further resolved that the Tribal Council concurs with the wishes of the Spirit Lake people."

The resolution also said that "a significant majority of the membership voted in favor of allowing UND to continue using the Fighting Sioux name and logo."

Nickname supporters at Spirit Lake say they think the resolution is exactly what the NCAA wanted. State Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, who negotiated the settlement with the NCAA, concurs.

Considering the contentious nature of the issue, to have a tribal council go on record supporting the nickname is a "significant event," said Jody Hodgson, general manager of Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Standing Rock nickname supporters have so far been unable to convince their Tribal Council to authorize a referendum on the nickname and, with two weeks to go before the election Sept. 30, it's unlikely they'll get the referendum.

Oct. 1 is the deadline for UND to get tribal support.

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The settlement says support has to come by February 2010 or UND will have to begin transitioning to a new nickname by November 2010.

The State Board of Higher Education, however, moved the deadline to Oct. 1. The board meets today at UND, but the nickname is not on its agenda. Nickname supporters and opponents hoping to speak to the board say they've been told they won't get a chance to get on the agenda.

State Board member Grant Shaft has said it's not impossible that the board allow an extension, but that depends on how much progress tribal councils make.

Reach Tran at (701) 780-1248; (800) 477-6572, ext. 248; or send e-mail to ttran@gfherald.com .

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