Fighting Sioux petitions have enough signatures for referendum in June

North Dakota's secretary of state says petitions have enough signatures to put the controversy over the University of North Dakota's Fighting Sioux nickname on the state ballot in June. But a vote is still not a sure thing. On Thursday the State Board of Higher Education will urge North Dakota's Supreme Court to cancel the referendum.
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North Dakota's secretary of state says petitions have enough signatures to put the controversy over the University of North Dakota's Fighting Sioux nickname on the state ballot in June. But a vote is still not a sure thing. On Thursday the State Board of Higher Education will urge North Dakota's Supreme Court to cancel the referendum.

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North Dakota voters will likely have to settle the long-running and controversial dispute over the university's nickname and mascot. A group that supports keeping the name say they've turned in 17,000 signatures to the secretary of state's of office, far more than they need to put the issue on a statewide ballot.

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The University of North Dakota resurrected the nickname after supporters hoping for a last-minute victory rounded up 17,000 signatures, more than enough to put the issue on the state's ballot.

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The Legislature last year passed a law requiring the University of North Dakota to use the Fighting Sioux nickname. The state Attorney General believes the law is unconstitutional. Now the Board of Higher Education has voted to challenge it with a lawsuit.

University of North Dakota to use 'Fighting Sioux' despite NCAA threats

The move comes after supporters of the controversial nickname filed petitions to put the issue before a statewide vote. The university's president said the school will continue to use the name and logo out of respect for the state's referendum process. The NCAA has told the school it could face sanctions.

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Now that the state's voters have authorized the shelving of the University of North Dakota's nickname, the Board of Higher Education is expected to order the school to make that happen. The process was started last winter but was put on hold pending the outcome of Tuesday's vote.

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The Fargo Forum reports petitioners are within 1,000 signatures of the 13,500 needed to put the debate surrounding the University of North Dakota nickname on the November ballot. The deadline to gather and file the signatures is midnight Tuesday.

Supporters want to vote on Sioux nickname change

North Dakotans do not appear willing to sit back and let the legislature change their university's nickname. They want voters to have a say.