Tuesday, October 3, 2023 | Back issues
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Cliffhanger in Vote to Replace Fighting Sioux

FARGO, N.D. (CN) - A runoff election Monday will choose a new mascot for the University of North Dakota, to replace The Fighting Sioux: either the Fighting Hawks, the Roughriders or Nodaks.

The university dropped its Fighting Sioux nickname in 2012 due to public controversy and a new NCAA rule that schools that wanted to use tribal names had to have the support of the tribe. The Spirit Lake Sioux endorsed the name in a tribal vote, but the Standing Rock Sioux opposed it, so the university dropped it.

In an online vote last week, UND students, alumni, faculty, staff, donors and season ticketholders were given five choices, culled from 1,172 suggestions from the public.

The Fighting Hawks came out on top, with 31 percent of the votes cast, followed by the Roughriders with 21 percent and The Nodaks with 20 percent. A name needed 50 percent plus one vote to win outright.

Several members of the Sioux nation tried to stop the vote last week, because the Sioux were not allowed to vote, unless they had ties to the university.

"Someone with no other ties to UND other than the purchase of a season ticket is allowed to participate in the vote on the nickname selection, but not the members of the Sioux Nations, who bestowed the name to UND," they said in their request for an injunction in Grand Forks County Court.

A judge denied the request on Oct. 19, finding the plaintiffs failed to show how they might suffer irreparable harm .

Many students call the school UND, a name that did not appear on the ballot.

The plaintiffs criticized UND President Robert Kelley for not allowing that choice, claiming he barred it because he "didn't like the name."

About 82,000 people with ties to UND were allowed to vote online.

Knocked out on the first round were the North Stars, with 14 percent of the vote, and Sundogs, with 13 percent.

President Kelly decided to make it a three-way runoff because the Roughriders and Nodaks were separated by just 116 votes.

Of the 82,000 people allowed to vote, 22,307 cast ballots, according to the Grand Forks Herald, a turnout of 27 percent.

Whichever name wins the runoff will be the winner, whether it gets 50 percent or not.

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