North Dakota residents voted Tuesday that they are ready to retire the University of North Dakota’s Fighting Sioux nickname, according to the Grand Forks Herald.
With all 426 precincts reporting complete but unofficial results, the ‘yes’ vote on Measure 4 topped the ‘no’ vote 67.35 percent to 32.65 percent.
Sioux County, home of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, also voted for an end to the use of the tribe’s name, 184 votes to 159. The vote total was surprisingly low, given the importance nickname supporters had placed on giving Standing Rock people a voice in the seemingly never-ending dispute.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed,” said Sean Johnson, a spokesman for the group that sought Tuesday’s statewide referendum on the nickname, to the Herald.
Johnson said he blamed “a lot of false fears generated by the foundation,” a reference to the UND Alumni Association and Foundation, which encouraged a vote to allow UND to retire the nickname.
The alumni groups spent about $250,000 on the campaign, mostly on TV advertising.
“When your opposition out-spends you 25-1, they’d better fire their ad company if they don’t win,” Johnson added.
Nickname supporters will continue to circulate petitions for another vote, a measure that would secure the nickname in the state Constitution. If enough signatures are filed by August, that vote may occur in November, but Johnson said the group may wait to file until December for a vote on the constitutional amendment in 2014.