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North Dakota House votes to keep UND Fighting Sioux nickname, logo

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BISMARCK - The North Dakota House debated a Fighting Sioux bill for about 30 minutes on Monday before showing strong support to keep the University of North Dakota's controversial nickname.

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The 65-28 vote means the issue will now move on to the Senate, which will have its own hearing on the matter and decide what to do with the bill.

House Bill 1263 states University of North Dakota athletic teams shall be known as the Fighting Sioux. Neither UND nor the state Board of Higher Education may take action to discontinue the use of the nickname or logo.

It requires the attorney general to consider filing a federal antitrust claim against the NCAA if the association takes any action to penalize UND for using the nickname and logo.

During the House debate, Rep. Mike Schatz, R-New England, called the legislation "a state identity bill." He criticized the NCAA for allowing other schools to keep their Native American nicknames but not UND.

"We will not be censored by a group of collegiate hypocrites," he said.

Rep. Phil Mueller, D-Valley City, said UND and the state Board of Higher Education studied this issue for years before deciding to move on.

"They spent a lot more time working and dealing with this issue than we ever thought about doing," he said.

Rep. Lonny Winrich, D-Grand Forks, also opposed the bill. He said he realizes the issue is emotional for many people. However, he also said it's time to move on.

"The continued use of the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo will harm the University of North Dakota in its primary mission: that of educating the young people of North Dakota," he said. "I urge you to vote no on this bill."

House Majority Leader Al Carlson said an overwhelming number of native and nonnative North Dakotans have shown their support for the bill.

"The people, the ones we work for, want the name," he said. "They want the Fighting Sioux name to stay, and I think we should accommodate them with a vote out of this chamber and send it on to the Senate."

Rep. Eliot Glassheim, D-Grand Forks, said many people in Grand Forks love the nickname and logo and wish they could keep it, but they do not want to continue legal battles.

"We do not want a divided campus. We do not want time, energy and money that should be focused on education to be wasted in hostile wrangling over the logo," he said.

Rep. RaeAnn Kelsch, R-Mandan, called it "disheartening" that the floor discussion was turning into Republicans versus Democrats.

"This is not a political discussion, and it should not be a political discussion," she said. "What this discussion should be about is allowing the citizens of North Dakota to have their voices be heard, and I believe that this is the venue."

The other two nickname bills were soundly defeated with 8-85 and 5-88 votes, leaving only one bill to move on to the Senate.

Sen. Tim Flakoll, R-Fargo, did not immediately know Monday when the bill will go before the Senate Education Committee.

He expects the committee will first take up bills with fiscal notes when the Legislature begins its second half in early March. The Legislature adjourns in late April.

How they voted

The North Dakota House of Representatives voted Monday to keep the University of North Dakota's Fighting Sioux nickname and logo.

On a 65-28 vote, the House approved House Bill 1263, which states University of North Dakota athletic teams shall be known as the Fighting Sioux. Neither UND nor the state Board of Higher Education may take action to discontinue the use of the nickname or logo.

Here's how House members voted:

Yeas: 65

Anderson, Beadle, Bellew, Belter, Boehning, Brabandt, Brandenburg, Carlson, Clark, D. Johnson, Dahl, Damschen, DeKrey, Delzer, Devlin, Dosch, Frantsvog, Froseth, Grande, Hanson, Hatlestad, Headland, Heilman, Heller, J. Nelson, Karls, Kasper, Keiser, Kilichowski, Kingsbury, Klein, Klemin, Koppelman, Kreidt, Kreun, Kroeber, L. Meier, Louser, Maragos, Martinson, Monson, Nathe, Owens, Paur, Pollert, Porter, R. Kelsch, Rohr, Ruby, Rust, Schatz, Schmidt, Skarphol, Steiner, Streyle, Sukut, Thoreson, Trottier, Vigesaa, Wall, Weiler, Weisz, Wieland, Wrangham, Drovdal

Nays: 28

Amerman, Boe, Conklin, Delmore, Glassheim, Gruchalla, Guggisberg, Hawken, Hofstad, Hogan, Holman, Hunskor, J. Kelsh, Kaldor, Kretschmar, M. Nelson, Metcalf, Mock, Mueller, N. Johnson, Onstad, Pietsch, S. Kelsh, S. Meyer, Sanford, Williams, Winrich, Zaiser

Excused: 0

Absent, not voting: 1

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