UND nickname news: Protest planned, NCAA warns about 'Sioux' chants

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Leaders of the University of North Dakota no doubt hope that someday, the controversy over dropping the school's old "Fighting Sioux" nickname will go away. But that day hasn't arrived yet.

Another reminder comes at the end of this week, when a group calling itself The Sioux Were Silenced plans to hold a rally to support the UND/North Dakota nickname option and call for the university’s president to resign immediately, the Forum News Service reports.

The newspaper notes the group has supported the old Fighting Sioux nickname, and opposes the decision of a review committee to eliminate the school's option of having its sports teams play without a new nickname.

The committee recently narrowed down the list of potential nicknames to five choices out of more than 1,100 suggestions that came in from the public, and submitted them to University President Robert Kelley for his review.

Many alumni remain in favor of keeping UND/North Dakota as the school’s nickname, and it was the most popular suggestion when the public submitted names this spring.

Kelley said late last month he would consider adding back the UND/North Dakota option before opening the decision to a public vote.

But many critics, including the Sioux Were Silenced group, are upset he didn't make that decision right away. They also note that since Kelley is planning to retire early next year, he should not be the one responsible for making that decision, the Forum News Service notes.

The other nicknames that made the final cut are: Fighting Hawks, Nodaks, Sundogs, North Stars and Roughriders.

Members of the public will vote from among the final names, but the exact process has not yet been determined.

The rally will be Saturday evening at University Park in Grand Forks, close to the UND campus. Organizers say they expect several hundred people to attend.

The rally coincides with move-in day for students returning to school for the fall.

Fighting Sioux dropped in 2012

The school retired the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo in 2012, after a long and contentious legal battle over whether the symbols were offensive to local Sioux tribes and other American Indians.

The NCAA threatened sanctions, and eventually UND agreed to drop the Fighting Sioux name.

State lawmakers then put into place a three-year moratorium on choosing a new nickname, so the school’s athletic teams have been playing simply as “UND” or “North Dakota” since then. Now that the moratorium is expired, the school wants to put a new nickname in place.

Can't chant 'Sioux', NCAA says

In another development that's sure to irk UND sports fans, the NCAA has sent a friendly reminder to officials there that the school could get in trouble if fans continue to chant for the Fighting Sioux and their opponents complain about it, according to the Grand Forks Herald.

The newspaper notes, for example, that fans at UND hockey games always end the national anthem by singing, "the home of the Sioux!" Many wear clothing with the old Fighting Sioux logo on it.

If this continued and other schools complain, the NCAA said it could impose sanctions.

But UND spokesman Peter Johnson told the paper the school has no intention of restricting fans' activities.

"President [Kelley] has said pretty consistently that people can certainly wear what they want to wear and say what they want to say" within appropriate boundaries, Johnson said.

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