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Nickname issue will not appear on ballot in 2014

GRAND FORKS -- Supporters of the University of North Dakota's old Fighting Sioux nickname did not submit petitions to force another statewide vote on the issue by Wednesday's deadline, Secretary of State Al Jaeger said Thursday.

The Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe's pro-nickname Committee for Understanding and Respect had one year from the time its petitions were approved by Jaeger's office to file them for a ballot measure in June 2014.

The initiated measure would have installed the former nickname in the state Constitution.

Sean Johnson, Bismarck, who has acted as a spokesman for the committee, said Thursday that "the fight is not over," despite the failure to file petitions.

"This is going to be a long-term fight," Johnson said. "It's probably going to take years to get this corrected. We're not positive or sure that the initiated measure is the right way to fix it.

"We can always do it again (circulate and file petitions) if we need to."

Eunice Davidson, a leader of the Spirit Lake group, declined to comment, referring questions to Reed Soderstrom, the Minot attorney who has represented the committee. Soderstrom did not return phone calls.

Johnson said the committee believed it had a sufficient number of signatures but "has been mulling it over for a few weeks, whether we wanted to (file) or not. We asked ourselves whether this was going to help us preserve the logo in the long run."

State law allows petition-sponsoring committees one year to circulate from the time the petition is approved for circulation, Jaeger said. "We asked the Legislature for that a while ago. Before, it was kind of open-ended. We wanted a timeline on it so it would not go on indefinitely."

Jaeger said that neither he nor members of his staff had heard from the committee in recent weeks.