FORT YATES (AP) — The Standing Rock Sioux's tribal council on Thursday approved a resolution supporting the University of North Dakota's retirement of its Fighting Sioux athletics nickname, an issue that has caused reservation friction for years.
``This is our final decision on this matter,'' said council member Jesse Taken Alive, an opponent of the nickname. ``There are other issues that are a priority, that need our attention.''
Council members voted 10-4 to support the nickname's retirement, Taken Alive said in a telephone interview.
Competing groups have given the council petitions that opposed the nickname and appealed for a reservation vote on whether UND should be allowed to continue using it. At a special meeting Thursday, the tribal council voted to affirm the nickname's retirement without taking up either petition.
Archie Fool Bear, a nickname supporter and former tribal councilman, said the dispute was not over.
``We are not taking this lying down,'' Fool Bear said. ``We do plan to see that our people's rights here at Standing Rock are recognized.''
The Board of Higher Education has already directed UND's president, Robert Kelley, to begin planning for a new nickname. In April, North Dakota's Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit filed by nickname supporters at the Spirit Lake Sioux Indian reservation who wanted to extend the nickname's use.
Five years ago, the NCAA declared UND's nickname — as well as Indian-inspired nicknames at other colleges — were abusive and hostile to American Indians. The NCAA said UND would not be allowed to host postseason tournaments if the name were kept.
A lawsuit followed. It was settled two years later with an agreement that UND could keep the nickname without penalty if the state's Spirit Lake and Standing Rock Sioux tribes endorsed its use.
Spirit Lake tribal members overwhelmingly approved the nickname in a reservation referendum. The Standing Rock tribal council has declined to order one, with its chairman, Charles Murphy, saying the tribe has more pressing issues to address.
Murphy, who himself is a former member of the Board of Higher Education, could not be reached for comment Thursday.