Fighting for the Sioux nicknameGRAND FORKS – Fighting Sioux nickname supporters from the Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe said they will file petition forms and affidavits of committee members with the secretary of state’s office today to refer to voters recent legislative action aimed at the nickname’s retirement.
By: Chuck Haga , The Dickinson Press
GRAND FORKS – Fighting Sioux nickname supporters from the Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe said they will file petition forms and affidavits of committee members with the secretary of state’s office today to refer to voters recent legislative action aimed at the nickname’s retirement.The nickname backers plan to circulate petitions to force a vote by the people on the Legislature’s repeal last month of a law adopted earlier this year. That law required the University of North Dakota to continue using the Fighting Sioux name and logo.
The repeal of the nickname mandate was effective Thursday, and UND officials are planning a retirement of the name and associated logo that is to be substantially completed by the end of the month.
But the tribe’s Committee for Understanding and Respect also suggested Thursday that “once enough signatures are collected and submitted back to the secretary of state, the law which the referendum petition applies to is placed on hold until the people can have their say at the next election.”
According to the nickname supporters, that means UND and the State Board of Higher Education would “have to cease any further efforts to retire our proud name until this vote of the people can be held,” and if the referral were successful, “the law protecting our name and likeness will be ‘The Law’ again!”
LeeAnn Oliver, elections specialist in the secretary of state’s office, said Article 3, Section 5 of the state constitution provides that the presentation of valid petitions for a referral “shall suspend the operation of any measure enacted by the Legislative Assembly except emergency measures and appropriations measures for the support and maintenance of state departments and institutions.”
Peter Johnson, executive associate vice president for university relations, said that UND continues to follow the various activities related to the nickname. “We will continue to comply with the law,” he said. “Beyond that, we don’t want to speculate on what might happen” with the petition drives.
‘Far from settled’
The nickname supporters also plan an initiated measure to secure the Fighting Sioux name through a constitutional amendment.
“We have more than enough affidavits for the sponsoring committees of each petition,” according to a statement released Thursday by the Committee for Understanding and Respect, acting on behalf of the Spirit Lake tribe. “Once approved, we will be making announcements on how to sign the petitions and how others can help circulate them.”
The nickname supporters said they need 13,000 signatures on the “repeal the repeal” petition by early February to place the question on the June 2012 primary election ballot.
The committee needs 27,000 signatures to get a constitutional amendment on the November 2012 general election ballot through an initiated measure.
“If we are successful, Fighting Sioux will be entered into the constitution and the matter will finally be settled,” according to the Thursday statement.
Haga is a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.