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Fate of Fighting Sioux Still Unclear

The state will now let the University of North Dakota retire the Fighting Sioux nickname, but the Spirit Lake Tribe wants it to remain.
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One more battle remains before the NCAA wins the war to retire the Fighting Sioux nickname at the University of North Dakota.

On November 9, Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed a law saying the university could drop the nickname, which overturned a March law mandating the school keep it. This new law is meant to appease the NCAA so the school’s sports teams aren’t left out of the Big Sky Conference. But the Spirit Lake Tribe, the Sioux tribe in the state that supports the nickname, is not backing down.

Members of the Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe’s Committee for Understanding and Respect say it still will not drop its lawsuit against the NCAA because they want the nickname to remain.

Back in 2005, when the NCAA put UND on a list of schools with Native American mascots, some were able to keep them providing they got permission from the tribes. Spirit Lake endorsed the use of Fighting Sioux, but the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council refused.

Spirit Lake’s lawsuit isn’t the only one that won’t be abandoned. In August a group of Native American students sued the state for mandating the school keep the nickname, which they say creates a hostile environment for them. According to The Associated Press, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem has filed a motion asking them to throw this out since the state overturned that law, but Carla Fredericks, one of the lawyers representing the students, says they still have legal claims against the state, so the case will not be dropped.

The AP reports that it will cost nearly $750,000 to get remove the many logos around campus and order new uniforms and gear for the university’s teams, but some logos will have to remain. Thousands of granite logos and the large logo inlaid in the floor of the Ralph Engelstad Arena will be too costly to remove. Jody Hodgson, the arena’s manager, has told the AP it would cost almost $1 million to remove them.

The school has some time to pick a new nickname and mascot, the law signed November 9 gives them until January 2015, which legislators hope is enough time for Fighting Sioux supporters to accept the change.

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