DICKINSON, N.D. — The University of North Dakota will have to retire its Fighting Sioux nickname and Indian head logo after Oct. 1, unless it can win 30-year agreements with two namesake tribes, the state Board of Higher Education declared today.
In its 8-0 vote, the state board cut more than a year off the time UND has to win the tribes’ OK, and the new requirement for 30-year agreements is seen as a high hurdle that may doom the nickname.
Under terms of a lawsuit settlement with the NCAA, UND has been trying to gain approval from the Spirit Lake and Standing Rock Sioux tribes to continue using the nickname and logo.
A recent advisory vote at Spirit Lake indicated 2-1 support for the university continuing to call its athletic teams the Fighting Sioux, but the tribal council must adopt a resolution of support. Logo supporters have begun circulating petitions calling for a referendum at Standing Rock.
The NCAA opposes the use of Indian nicknames and had threatened UND with sanctions if it failed to drop the Fighting Sioux name and logo, which the athletic association said contributed to a “hostile and abusive” environment toward Indian students.
UND bitterly resisted that characterization and sued the NCAA, and the settlement allowed the nickname to continue until late 2010 while the university sought tribal authorization.