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Chuck Haga, Forum Communications, Published June 06 2012

Sioux nickname supporters to stage Fargo rallies today, Friday

GRAND FORKS - Supporters of UND keeping its Fighting Sioux nickname plan “Save the Sioux Truth Tour” stops in Fargo today and Friday to promote a “no” vote on Measure 4 in Tuesday’s North Dakota primary.

The measure asks voters whether legislative action in November allowing UND to retire the name should be affirmed or overturned.

Eunice Davidson, a leader of the pro-nickname Committee for Understanding and Respect at the Spirit Lake Sioux Nation, said Wednesday that she and other nickname supporters from Spirit Lake and the Standing Rock Sioux Nation would take part in the rallies.

Ben Brien, an Ojibwe Indian from the Turtle Mountain Band who designed the much-revered Fighting Sioux logo in 1999, also will be on hand Friday doing autographs for anyone who would like one on their favorite jersey,” Davidson said.

She said the nickname supporters will have petitions available for a proposed initiated measure aimed at securing the Fighting Sioux name in the state Constitution.

About 27,000 signatures are required to be filed by early August to place that measure on the November general election ballot. Davidson said the committee has set a goal of collecting 40,000 signatures, “and we’re over halfway to achieving that.”

In a separate statement released Wednesday by Sean Johnson of Bismarck, a spokesman for the nickname supporters, he said support for the proposed constitutional amendment “has been growing tremendously… since the UND Foundation began their ‘Vote Yes’ tour centered on generating fear.”

Tim O’Keefe, executive vice president and CEO of the UND Alumni Association and Foundation, joined five UND coaches Tuesday and Wednesday at news conferences in Fargo, Bismarck and Minot to urge a “yes” vote.

O’Keefe and the coaches said the potential cost of NCAA sanctions, if the nickname remains, is too high.

Davidson said nickname supporters will be across from the West Acres Mall from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. today and across from the FargoDome from 1 to 6 p.m. today and Friday.

Due to incorrect information provided to the Herald, the dates of the rallies were incorrect in an earlier version of this story.