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UND NICKNAME: Plaintiffs in lawsuit file response

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit involving UND's Fighting Sioux nickname have filed a reply to a brief the State Board of Higher Education earlier filed with the state Supreme Court.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit involving UND's Fighting Sioux nickname have filed a reply to a brief the State Board of Higher Education earlier filed with the state Supreme Court.

The key arguments continue to be, from the state's side, that the plaintiffs, nickname supporters from the Spirit Lake Dakotah Nation, have no standing to sue and that the state has the right to retire the nickname whenever it chooses.

From the plaintiffs' side, the argument continues to be that the plaintiffs are third-party beneficiaries to the agreement between the state and the NCAA, which considers American Indian nicknames offensive. The agreement says UND has until Nov. 30 to win the support of both the state's Sioux tribes or retire the nickname.

The state board has indicated it would like to retire the nickname earlier than that so UND can apply to join the Summit League athletic conference, which won't consider any membership application until the nickname issue is resolved.

The plaintiffs say that's a breach of agreement with the tribes and with them. They thought they'd have until Nov. 30.

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The state has said the tribes might be third-party beneficiaries, but not individual tribal members, such as the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs' new filing says that individual members also count because Indians have a unique status under U.S. law allowing individuals to sue on behalf of the tribe.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the appeal March 23.

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