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Published February 22, 2011, 08:35 PM

Debate Continues Over Fighting Sioux Nickname Bill

A bill that would let UND keep the Fighting Sioux nickname and Indian head logo is just a few steps away from becoming a law. A 65 to 28 vote in the North Dakota House Monday means the bill will move forward, but not without some debate.

A bill that would let UND keep the Fighting Sioux nickname and Indian head logo is just a few steps away from becoming a law.

A 65 to 28 vote in the North Dakota House Monday means the bill will move forward, but not without some debate.

"Yesterday's vote, I feel, was a big victory. We've been fighting for a long time," Archie Fool Bear said.

Fool Bear is a staunch supporter of the nickname and logo. A former Standing Rock tribal council member, he says he is going to keep fighting as the bill goes to the North Dakota Senate.

The bill requires the Attorney General to sue the NCAA if the association tries to penalize UND for keeping the nickname.

The director of American Indian Studies at UND feels the vote is a misstep.

"The constitutionality of this bill, the repercussions on the athletes by the NCAA and the biggest thing, this issue doesn't address race relations," Leigh Jeanotte said.

Jeanotte says this bill will keep an identity that belittles a race of people and thinks it's inappropriate to supersede a previous decision made by the State Board of Higher Education to retire the nickname and logo.

"The legislature many, many years ago gave the authority to the state board and this is something really devastating to the state. What's going to happen to other issues of a similar fashion?" Jeanotte said.

But Fool Bear says this is what the people in the state have wanted, and it's about time legislators listen.

"All of North Dakota, all of UND alumni, all the people, all the Sioux people who continue to carry pride in who they are," Fool Bear said.

If the bill passes the Senate, Gov. Jack Dalrymple would have to then sign it before it becomes law.

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