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Forum Communications Co., Published April 13 2010

Spirit Lake Nation reacts to UND nickname decision

FORT TOTTEN, N.D. – Supporters of the University of North Dakota’s Fighting Sioux nickname on the Spirit Lake Nation reservation are pondering their next move. Others say it is time to move on.

“I was kind of in favor of the nickname in the beginning, but it dragged on too long,” said tribal member Flo Dunn. “It was creating hard feelings among families.”

A state Supreme Court ruling last week supported a Board of Higher Education decision nearly a year ago to retire the nickname and logo, which some find offensive.

Spirit Lake tribal members voted 774-378 a year ago to support the nickname and logo. Supporters seeking a delay on the decision about the nickname’s fate took the case to the Supreme Court. A delay might have opened the door for a vote on support among members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, though that tribe’s council had resisted calls for it to change its bylaws to allow a vote.

Under a settlement with the NCAA, the Higher Education board and UND had until Nov. 30 to get the support of both tribes or drop the nickname.

Eunice Davidson, one of the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case, said the group is deciding what to do next.

“It’s a disgusting situation, what they did,” said her husband, David Davidson, a nontribal member.

Others feel it is time to end the dispute that has lingered for years.

“We’re Dacotah people, a proud people,” Norma Rainbow said. “ ‘Sioux’ is a name that was given to us. It means ‘snake,’ and I’m no snake.”

No timetable has been given for choosing a new nickname.