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Oct. 1 deadline stands for decision on Sioux nickname

GRAND FORKS - An Oct. 1 deadline for the University of North Dakota's Fighting Sioux nickname will stand, despite pleas Thursday from some nickname supporters to extend it.

The state Board of Higher Education did not have the nickname on its agenda, but several people on both sides of the issue spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting at UND.

Steve Fool Bear, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, said he expects there will be new leadership after the Sept. 30 tribal election that could open up the possibility for a referendum on the nickname.

Fool Bear thinks a majority of tribal members will support the nickname if they have the opportunity to vote.

"We can get this issue on the ballot and resolved," he said.

Standing Rock Chairman Ron His Horse is Thunder, a nickname opponent, told board members even if he loses the election, a referendum would still need support from the tribal council. Recently, more on the council have voiced opposition to the logo, he said.

"The tide is shifting more and more against the use of the logo," His Horse is Thunder said. "I do hope this will be the last meeting where we have to discuss it and you go forward with changing the name."

Board members adjourned the meeting after hearing comments on the nickname and did not discuss the issue.

Board President Richie Smith said the board has not received a formal request from either the Standing Rock or Spirit Lake tribal councils to extend the deadline.

If such a request is made, the board could hold an emergency meeting to consider extending the deadline, Smith said.

In May, board members said UND must begin retiring the Fighting Sioux nickname starting Oct. 1 unless both tribal councils support the nickname and a 30-year agreement with the tribes is secured.

When board members set that deadline, they were under the impression Standing Rock tribal election would be Sept. 15.

The settlement with the NCAA gives the board until February to either win support of the tribes or begin retiring the nickname.