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Stenehjem wants judge to throw out Fighting Sioux nickname lawsuit

MINOT, N.D. - Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said he will ask the court to dismiss a lawsuit filed against the North Dakota Board of Higher Education over UND's Fighting Sioux nickname.

MINOT, N.D. - Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said he will ask the court to dismiss a lawsuit filed against the North Dakota Board of Higher Education over UND's Fighting Sioux nickname.

Nickname supporters from the Spirit Lake reservation had filed suit to prevent the state board from shortening the deadline for the nickname from Nov. 30, 2010, to Oct. 31, 2009.

Stenehjem held a closed door session with the board as its attorney and talked to reporters afterward. He said he'll have a legal response Monday.

The court is expected to convene 10 a.m. Dec. 9 at state district court in Devils Lake. Until then, the board is under a temporary restraining order from the judge forbidding it from retiring the nickname.

Stenehjem said the judge might make his decision that day or mull it over a few weeks, so it's hard to tell how long the order would continue, assuming the judge rules for the state.

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He hinted at his legal strategy, noting that the plaintiffs would have to prove they have the standing to file suit, that they'll suffer irreparable harm if the deadline is moved and that they have a substantial likelihood of success.

Under an agreement between the state and the NCAA, which considers American Indian nicknames offensive, UND has until Nov. 30, 2010, to win the support of both the state's Sioux tribes. The Spirit Lake tribe has given its approval, but the Standing Rock tribe has not.

The state board held its monthly meeting at Minot State University.

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