Supporters of the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux nickname and logo managed to get more than 17,000 signatures on a petition that would put the nickname debate to a statewide vote in June.
According to The Associated Press UND president Robert Kelley said the decision to continue using the name and logo is out of respect for the state’s referendum process, which requires that a law requiring the school to keep the nickname be in effect while the petition signatures are reviewed.
“As soon as that petition was filed last night, the law reverts,” Kelley told the AP. “I don't want to violate the law.”
Secretary of State Al Jaeger has 35 days to review the signatures and determine if the petition warrants a vote, but he told the AP that he may not need that long.
The petition, at 17,213 signatures, is 4,000 more than the minimum of 13,452 needed to force a statewide vote.
“We worked in the cold weather. We froze. But even though we went through all that, it was really an experience, learning how to do this,” Eunice Davidson, a member of the Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe, told the AP. She supports the Fighting Sioux nickname and has spent hours over recent weeks outside UND’s Ralph Engelstad Arena to gather signatures.
UND has already started removing references to the Fighting Sioux from websites and some teams have switched their uniforms.
Grant Shaft, president of the state Board of Higher Education, plans to meet with North Dakota’s attorney general Monday to discuss going to court to block the state law requiring the university to keep the name.