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Fighting Sioux nickname at UND will soon be history

Thursday it appeared that the continued use of the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo for University of North Dakota sports teams would be decided next month.

Thursday it appeared that the continued use of the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo for University of North Dakota sports teams would be decided next month. But like a lightning-fast goal off a face-off in front of the net, the North Dakota Board of Education is making the call today: The nickname and logo will be retired.

The university athletic teams will continue to be called the Sioux through the 2010-2011 school year while the school considers alternatives, reports the Grand Forks Herald.

Background from the paper:

The board had voted in a May 2009 meeting in Dickinson, N.D., to retire the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo starting Oct. 1, a deadline later extended to Nov. 30, unless the university could win approval and a 30-year commitment from the two namesake tribes.

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Spirit Lake voters had OK’d continued use of the symbols in April 2009, but Standing Rock tribal officials have thus far refused to hold a referendum.

The tribes’ approval was mandated by the settlement of a lawsuit UND brought against the NCAA, which considers Indian nicknames and logos abusive.

The hard-fought, four-year legal battle aroused great passions on both sides, and it was complicated by divisions within the tribes — divisions which logo opponents cited as evidence of the nickname’s negative impact on tribal life and, especially, Indian students at UND.

On Thursday morning, the board had indicated a decision on the matter wouldn’t come until May, but just as the board was meeting, the state Supreme Court ruled against logo supporters, clearing the way for immediate action.

Not everyone is against use of the logo and nickname, the paper said:

Earl Strinden, former head of the UND Alumni Association, had worked to reach out to tribal members to win support for the logo, and he said there is broad support.

“This is very sad,” he said of the board’s action.

Also disappointed was Bennett Brien, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa artist who designed the logo displayed on UND uniforms and throughout the Engelstad arena.

“Well, political correctness has reared its ugly head,” he said about the board decision. “I knew it was going to happen. Now they will put some stupid-ass animal on the logo.”