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Published March 23, 2010, 08:04 PM

Fighting Sioux Appeal Heard by ND Supreme Court

An attorney says North Dakota's Board of Higher Education shouldn't be able to speed up a timetable for changing the University of North Dakota's Fighting Sioux nickname. WDAZ covered the meeting from Bismarck.

An attorney says North Dakota's Board of Higher Education shouldn't be able to speed up a timetable for changing the University of North Dakota's Fighting Sioux nickname.

Lolita Romanick spoke during North Dakota Supreme Court arguments today. She's representing eight Spirit Lake Sioux tribal members in a lawsuit against the board.

The board is considering changing UND's nickname. Romanick says the board shouldn't be allowed to do that until Nov. 30. That's the deadline set by a lawsuit settlement between UND and the NCAA.

Assistant attorney general Doug Bahr (BAR) says the Spirit Lake and Standing Rock tribes and their members weren't part of the settlement. He says the Spirit Lake tribal members don't have legal standing to sue the board over the issue.

Bahr says the Board of Higher Education has the right to change the Fighting Sioux nickname.

The argument hinges on whether tribal members have the right to try to enforce the agreement between UND and the NCAA. Romanick says they do have that power -- and Bahr says they don't.

Bahr says the agreement doesn't even require UND to drop the Fighting Sioux nickname. But he says if UND keeps the nickname after Nov. 30 without tribal approval -- the NCAA will impose penalties on UND's athletics teams.

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