Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Challenges. Discussion »
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BISMARCK, NORTH DAKOTA - Governor Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota signed a law that allows the University of North Dakota to get rid of the "Fighting Sioux" nickname that has been around for the past 81 years. With the signing of the law, the nickname is due to retire by December 1, 2011.
The legislation came to the Governor's desk after the North Dakota voted 39-7 on Tuesday night to approve the bill that allowed for the university to drop the nickname. On Wednesday morning, the House of Representatives approved the legislation by a vote of 63-31.
This past March, the North Dakota Legislature passed a law requiring the university to keep the nickname.
In an October 2007 agreement with the National Collegiate Athletic Association, NCAA, the University of North Dakota agreed to discontinue using the logo and nickname by August 15, 2011 or face sanctions. The National Collegiate Athletic Association would let UND keep its nickname and logo if it received approval from North Dakota's Spirit Lake and Standing Rock Sioux tribes. The university has received an endorsement from the Spirit Lake tribe's governing council, but the Standing Rock Sioux have long opposed the "Fighting Sioux" nickname and have refused to change their stance.
Wednesday's action will free the university of any impending by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The new law forbids the university to select a new logo or nickname until January 2015.
The Legislative Council spokesperson referred the Native News Network to the university president's office for comment. The following statement was sent via email from the University Relations office from University of North Dakota President Robert Kelley:
The University of North Dakota appreciates the work of the North Dakota Legislature this week in passing SB 2370. With the signature of Gov. Jack Dalrymple, this action allows UND to complete the directive of the State Board of Higher Education and to meet the terms of the 2007 settlement agreement with the NCAA by transitioning away from the current nickname and logo. This step will remove UND from sanctions imposed by the NCAA and will allow UND to continue to pursue Division I athletics in the Big Sky conference as a member in good standing - critical for the immediate and long term success of UND student-athletes and UND's athletics programs.
The legislative process has been thorough and has allowed individuals and groups to voice their opinions regarding the issue. I want to reassure our students, faculty, staff and alumni - and all friends of the University - that the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo will be retired with dignity as it becomes part of the tradition and history of the University of North Dakota.
Steve Mohan contributed to this story.
posted November 10, 2011 9:50 am est
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