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Standing Rock UND nickname campaign enters new phase

Standing Rock supporters of UND's Fighting Sioux nickname are beginning a campaign to get each of the eight tribal districts to approve the nickname, according to one of the organizers.

So far, only the Cannonball District has approved, Antoine American Horse Jr. said Sunday. If other districts approve, he said, it could force the Tribal Council to do the same.

Recently, nickname supporters tried to get the council to put the nickname on a referendum, but failed.

Previously, the council had voted to oppose the nickname. None of the districts have done so.

The Tribal Council is made up of 14 members, eight of whom are elected by district and six are at-large positions representing the entire tribe. Many of the members, though, are up for re-election this fall.

American Horse said he expects to see big changes because of other tribal political issues, though the nickname issue does have some relevance. That's in part because a previous tribal council had decades ago granted UND the use of the nickname in a sacred ceremony, he said.

Still, under a settlement with the NCAA, UND would need the tribe to approve the nickname again and get the other North Dakota Sioux tribe, the Spirit Lake Dakotah Nation, to do the same. If not, the university would have to change the nickname by Nov. 30, 2010.

Spirit Lake voters will decide the matter Tuesday.