Deadline For Second Fighting Sioux Ballot Petition Has Come And Gone


On the June ballot, North Dakotans shot down a petition that would have kept in place a law requiring the University of North Dakota to keep the “Fighting Sioux” logo and nickname. But backers of that petition, including the Spirit Lake Sioux tribe, vowed to push ahead with signatures they’d already been gathering for a constitutional amendment to keep the name.

But the deadline for that petition has now come and gone, according to Secretary of State Al Jaeger.

I supported the Fighting Sioux issue, and the measure to keep the nickname in statute, but I opposed the constitutional measure. I was apprehensive about enshrining a sports nickname in the state constitution, and after voters shot down the statute I didn’t really think it was appropriate to then ask them about a constitutional amendment.

As frustrating as it is, and for better or worse, North Dakota voters bought into the idea that keeping the nickname would harm UND.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • Tim Heise


  • spud

    It is over. Not on anyone’s radar anymore. Only thing less important is Kevin F. and his whining.

  • yy4u2

    Perhaps they should have worked the term welfare into the slogan as more and more people are holding onto that and to take it away would require prying off their cold dead fingers.

  • Rick Olson

    Maybe, finally, the issue that just wouldn’t die finally will be allowed to rest in peace. Backers of an initiated constitutional amendment had until yesterday to submit some 27,000 signatures to the North Dakota secretary of state’s office to force yet another vote on the Fighting Sioux nickname at the University of North Dakota. Earlier this year, the voters upheld legislation in a referendum which had been passed by the North Dakota Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Jack Dalrymple; which requires that UND retire the nickname and logo. It seems that backers of the latest effort took the advice of “Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run.” It’s time to let UND go about the business of selecting a new nickname and logo for its sports teams.

    UND appears to be in no hurry to adopt a new nickname/logo. Didn’t I hear someone was it President Kelley or someone say it could be as many as two years before UND would be in a position to adopt a new nickname?

    I assume it will go something like this. UND students, faculty, staff, alumni, etc. will be allowed to submit suggestions for a new nickname and logo. A campus-wide contest of some kind.Those suggestions will get whittled down to two or three finalists, and there will be an on campus referendum of sorts where the student body will vote to select the new nickname and logo. The winning nickname and logo would ultimately have to be approved by the UND administration as well as the Board of Higher Education, I would assume.

    Here’s my most logical thought: “North Dakota Roughriders.” North Dakota has been referred to as the “Roughrider State.”

    That doesn’t necessarily mean that Grand Forks Red River High School will have to pick a new moniker. I mean there are plenty of high schools across the country that have the same nickname as a college or university,

    • headward

      Good thing that UND dropped the Sioux nickname so they can play the bison and gophers again. Wait that’s not happening like the nay-sayers stated? They lied to get their way?! Crazy. I’d say bring back the nickname and live with sanctions by the NCAA. The NCAA also stated that some of the logos in the ralph is ok. I guess it’s not offensive nickname if they’re too big and expensive to remove. I guess that’s the PC logic for you.

      • Rick Olson

        I wouldn’t go that far. It’s true that the University of Minnesota as well as the University of Wisconsin were among UND’s old rivals, especially in hockey, which announced early on that they would not compete against UND until such time as the nickname and logo matter were resolved.

        I also think the NCAA understands that the Indian head logo is a part of the Ralph Engelstad Arena’s legal identity. So, the NCAA couldn’t order the removal of every last Indian head logo in the building.

        Hey, I’m as traditionalist as anyone. If UND had been able to find a way to keep the nickname and logo, I would have been all for it. Unfortunately, I think this thing is over. It is what it is.

        What sports fans from all across the state, of course want more than anything else, is a renewal of the NDSU-UND rivalry in football. It seems to me that NDSU is more than willing to try and work something out in order that UND can be scheduled as a non-conference opponent…unfortunately, it’s been UND that’s been dragging its feet on the subject.

  • Lynn Bergman

    The “elite education oligarchy” at UND plans to replace the nickname after the three year moratorium is over. That would be the stupidest move in North Dakota history, causing hoards of UND alumni to reconsider planned gifting.
    Leave it “North Dakota” and leave UND alumni their dignity… or significant gifting will be cancelled in a heartbeat.

    • Zach

      Just like the significant gifting was cancelled after the name was dropped in the first place, right?

    • dlao

      so you donate because of a logo and not because of a school?

      • Captornado

        No. People donate because they thought their school stood for a certain set of principles and wanted to help maintain those principles for future generations. The current administration/staff at UND clearly does not stand for anything but lies and deceit.

  • RandyboBandy

    So UND plans to return all of the money Ralph spent on their arena back to his wife and family right? Oh wait, they got a ton of money and free things and then stabbed Ralph in the back after he died. Never mind, for some reason I thought they appreciated their alumni.

    • Rick Olson

      I doubt that’s going to happen. Ralph Engelstad donated some $120 million (after figuring in all cost overruns) and the REA was built with those funds. The arena is managed by a corporate entity known as Ralph Engelstad Arena, Inc. (REA, Inc. for short). UND merely leases the Ralph and the adjacent Betty Engelstad Sioux Center, as such UND is a rent-paying tenant of those facilities. The building is privately owned by the Engelstad family for all intensive purposes. Therefore, there is no money to return on UND’s part. The future of the building is completely and solely in the hands of the Engelstad family/REA, Inc.

      This is why there has been such confusion among the public regarding such things as gathering petition signatures. Although the facility does sit on UND-owned property, it is still a privately-owned facility. Therefore, the Ralph’s management had every right not to allow backers of the Fighting Sioux to gather petition signatures during events in the building. REA’s position on the matter was later upheld by a state district court judge in Grand Forks. The judge ruled that the arena’s management had the legal right to keep the petitioners out.

      One would have to check with the Grand Forks County auditor’s office about this, but it would seem reasonable enough to assume that the Engelstad family through REA Inc. is responsible for the property taxes and special assessments on the building.

  • Rick Olson

    What’s next? This stuff infiltrating into pro sports? Forcing the Cleveland Indians to drop the Indians nickname and the Chief Wahoo logo? Forcing the Washington Redskins to drop the Redskins name and their Redskin logo? Forcing the Atlanta Braves to drop the Braves nickname, logo and the Tomohawk Chop?