SBD/November 10, 2011/Colleges

North Dakota Gov. Repeals Bill Mandating Fighting Sioux Nickname Remain

Despite repeal, Spirit Lake Sioux Nation supporters vowed to fight in defense of logo
North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple yesterday signed legislation “repealing the North Dakota law that mandates UND’s use of the Fighting Sioux nickname, bringing an apparent end to a long-running controversy that pitted the state against the NCAA, kept UND churning and divided the state’s American Indian population,” according to Chuck Haga of GRAND FOLKS HERALD. The North Dakota House “approved the repeal bill by a lopsided margin almost exactly opposite of the vote cast in that chamber to defend the nickname and logo in February.” The House vote was 63-31. The Senate “had approved the measure Tuesday evening, 39-7.” Still, Fighting Sioux supporters at the Spirit Lake Sioux Nation “vowed to fight on in defense of a name and logo they say honors them” (GRAND FOLKS HERALD, 11/10). The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Joe Barrett notes a provision in the repeal bill passed yesterday “forbids the school to choose a new nickname or logo for three years.” Some lawmakers “expressed hope that might leave an opening to retain the nickname if a lawsuit recently brought against the NCAA by members of the Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe is successful” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/10). The AP’s Wetzel & Hunt noted the NCAA since August has “banned UND from hosting postseason tournaments and said the school's athletes may not wear uniforms with the nickname or logo during postseason play.” Still, some “remnants are likely to remain.” Inside the privately owned Ralph Engelstad Arena are “thousands of granite and metal Indian head logos, including one huge logo inlaid into the floor inside the building's main entrance.” Ralph Engelstad Arena GM Jody Hodgson previously has estimated that it “would cost about $1 million to have most of them removed.” He “declined to comment when reached Wednesday” (AP, 11/9).

BACK & FORTH: The GRAND FOLKS HERALD’s Haga notes the State Board of Higher Education, “anticipating this week's action by the Legislature, directed UND to prepare for a transition away from Fighting Sioux, a transition that the board said should be substantially completed by Dec. 31.” UND Exec Associate VP for University Relations Peter Johnson said the university "had a plan in place" for how to handle the various licensing and merchandising arrangements involving Fighting Sioux gear. But Johnson said "that was disrupted" when the Legislature passed a law requiring UND to keep using the nickname. He said under that plan, "basically there would be no more production of clothing or other items after a certain date." Johnson: "But that plan became moot when the Legislature took its action in the spring" (GRAND FOLKS HERALD, 11/10).
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