On June 12, North Dakota residents were able to lend their voices to the decades-old issue of the University of North Dakota’s Fighting Sioux moniker and the message was loud and clear – remove the nickname, according to the Associated Press.
At Tuesday’s North Dakota primary voters were asked to uphold or reject the State Legislature’s repeal of a state law requiring the school to use the nickname. Sixty-eight percent voted to retire the nickname the AP reported.
Despite the outcome, controversy still remains.
“This is a political matter with no celebration,” Tim O’Keefe, executive vice president and CEO of the UND Alumni Association and Foundation, who led a campaign to retire the name’s use, told the AP.
The moniker vote, came after more than 17,000 supporters signed a petition to bring the debate to the statewide level with a vote Indian Country Today Media Network reported on February 9. The minimum signatures needed to force a vote was 13,452, more than 4,000 more signed on.
Now that the votes have been tallied, UND President Robert Kelley said the college can return its focus to its students.
“We are appreciative that voters took the time to listen and to understand the issues and the importance of allowing the university to move forward,” Kelley said in a statement via AP.
In November last year, Chase Iron Eyes wrote in an ICTMN column that he has been paying attention to the ordeal for over 10 years and “I am becoming fatigued with every twist and turn those that wish to keep the name are now engaging.”
And as Iron Eyes stated then, it appears some in the state could be feeling the same way. However, the fight is not over, as the group who led the petition is looking to pursue another vote in the fall to make Fighting Sioux part of the state constitution.
Though a strong amount of American Indians and Native communities are for retiring the Native themed logo, as ICTMN has reported in previous coverage, not all tribes want to retire it. In 2011 the Spirit Lake Tribe sued NCAA, for its “attempt to take away and prevent the North Dakota Sioux Indians from giving their name forever to the University of North Dakota,” according to a letter ICTMN posted November 1.
As for now though, UND has the backing of the community to retire its nickname and logo.
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