Environmental Probe of Pipeline Found Lacking

     FARGO, N.D. (CN) — The Dakota Access Pipeline faces yet more scrutiny now that an independent research firm has released the results of its investigation into the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s environmental assessment for the 1,168-mile oil pipeline.     The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe hired Accufacts, Inc., an independent consulting firm that advises the government on pipelines, to perform an analysis of the Army Corps’ initial environmental assessment. The review, released Thursday, revealed multiple deficiencies in the Army Corps’ study, including lack of attention to the potential for a catastrophic oil spill. The review also found that the Army Corps failed to adequately evaluate the environmental effects should such a spill occur.     “While the environmental assessment largely focuses on… water crossing activities related to construction… the USACE does not provide appropriate detailed analysis as to the oil spill risks to these sensitive waters,” Richard Kuprewicz, president of Accufacts, said in his report.     The report notes that a potential leak could be difficult to find, even if the pipeline experiences a major breach. Kuprewicz found that Dakota Access’s assessment of its ability to identify and repair the line in such an event was “overstated and unsubstantiated.”     Issues of environmental impact are a leading concern among protestors of the Dakota Access pipeline, which runs from the oil fields in Western North Dakota to Illinois, crossing South Dakota and Iowa along the way. Members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have taken to calling themselves “water protectors” to express their concerns over the pipeline’s potential effect on Lake Oahe and the Missouri River, which are significant sources of drinking water for residents of North and South Dakota.     “Mr. Kuprewicz’s findings reflect the common sense point that was somehow lost in the final environmental assessment — that pipelines leak, and that when they do so there are often devastating consequences, particularly when the leak contaminates water,” Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, wrote in a letter to Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army. “The public record is filled with examples which further substantiate this point.”     The report also found shoddy pipeline construction, inattention to the impact of potential spills on communities downriver and an underestimation of the risk of landslides. In addition, it raised issues of underreporting the environmental impact when pipeline leaks do occur, which could spur still further questions over the validity of the Army Corps’ environmental assessment.     “All too often, worst case pipeline releases are under-calculated as released volumes are seriously underreported, and response plans proven ineffective at recovering anywhere near the amount of oil eventually determined to have actually been released,” said Kuprewicz in the report. “Without more information, a proper analysis of worst case discharge claims and associated oil spill response plan effectiveness on sensitive receptors cannot be properly evaluated.”     “The law requires a full and transparent analysis of risks like oil spills prior to issuance of a federal permit. It’s clear that never happened here,” Jan Hasselman, an attorney for the Tribe, said in a statement released by EarthJustice. “We expect the Corps to give this new report close consideration as it determines whether to move ahead with the permits needed to cross the Missouri River — permits that Dakota Access didn’t have before starting construction of the pipeline.”     The Obama administration has taken notice of the outcry against the pipeline, asking Dakota Access to halt construction around Lake Oahe even though a federal judge ruled in the Army Corps’ favor in September. Earlier this week, President Obama announced that the Army Corps was considering possibilities for rerouting the pipeline.

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Standing Rock Sioux in a Standoff With Pipeline Company and Army

     BISMARCK, N.D. (CN) — Sitting Bull would be proud. Two weeks ago, members of the Dakota, Lakota and Yankton Sioux set up tipis in camps on a tributary of the Missouri River — a Spiritual Camp and a Warrior Camp — to fight a crude oil pipeline they fear will poison the Missouri River. For the moment, they have stood off the pipeline company and the Army Corps of Engineers.     Two hearings are set in North Dakota Federal Court this week: on Wednesday, the court will consider the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s July 27 lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers. The tribe challenged the Army’s approvals of the pipeline on environmental and procedural grounds.     “The construction and operation of the pipeline, as authorized by the Corps, threatens the tribe’s environmental and economic well-being, and would damage and destroy sites of great historic, religious, and cultural significance to the tribe,” the tribe said in the lawsuit filed by EarthJustice.     Dakota Access sued back last Monday, seeking a restraining order against the protesters, who had prevented its workers from entering the work site.     On Tuesday, Aug. 16, U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland granted Dakota Access the temporary restraining order. Hovland will hear arguments Thursday, Aug. 25, on whether to make the order permanent.     Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirschmeier warned the public last week to stay away from the site, saying Sioux protesters were carrying weapons, including pipe bombs, and that visitors risked assault.     A Thursday afternoon visit to the protest site, 30 miles south of the state capital, revealed no indications of threats or violence — just the opposite.     Residents of the Sacred Stone Spiritual Camp and Red Warrior Camp were celebrating the sheriff’s announcement, on Prairie Public Broadcasting, that “construction of the Dakota Access pipeline south of Mandan, has been stopped — for safety reasons.”     A spokesman for Energy Transfer Partners, the corporate parent of Dakota Access, which is building the 30-inch-diameter pipeline, told The Wall Street Journal that “construction has been halted at the protest site,” pending the Aug. 24 court hearing, but that work on the pipeline “continues elsewhere.”     Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners wants to pump 470,000 barrels of oil a day, from the Bakken Oil Fields in western North Dakota, 1,168 miles to a terminus in Southern Illinois, to be shipped on other pipelines to the Gulf of Mexico.     Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault, lead defendant in Dakota Access’s lawsuit and one of 28 protesters arrested last week, denied the pipeline company’s and the sheriff’s allegations of threats and violence.     “The position of our tribe is clear: There’s no place for threats, violence or criminal activity,” Archambault told Prairie Public Broadcasting. “That is simply not our way.”     Historians might raise an eyebrow at that — without questioning the claims on either side of this story.          The Standing Rock Sioux     The 3,572-square-mile Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is the sixth-largest Indian reservation in the United States. Had the United States honored its treaties, it would be four times larger. All of Sioux County, N.D., and Corson County, S.D., are contained within the reservation.     As is the case with most Native American history, the history is muddled.     There was no Standing Rock Sioux tribe until the U.S. government forced members of the enormous Sioux nation onto a reservation and gave them that name.     Sitting Bull, perhaps the most famous “Indian” in U.S. history, for his role in defeating George Armstrong Custer’s 7th Cavalry at the Little Bighorn (which the Sioux call the Greasy Grass) on June 25, 1876, was a Hunkpapa Sioux, a branch of the Lakota Sioux.     About 9,000 Dakota, Lakota and Yankton Sioux live on the Standing Rock reservation today.     Chairman Archambault says that a leak on the Dakota Access pipeline, to be built less than half a mile from the reservation, could have a catastrophic effect on the Sioux, as it could poison the entire Missouri River, the main tributary of the Mississippi River, the Father of Waters.     Other Sioux tribes, including the Rosebud Sioux, say the pipeline will surely encroach upon their lands, and may contaminate them, in violation of treaties.     The Sioux say they are not fighting only for themselves. In statements on social media, the Sioux and their supporters say the Missouri River provides the water of life for all the farmers and ranchers and many of the cities and towns downstream.     In its Aug. 15 federal lawsuit, Dakota Access claims that “15 to 30” protesters turned out to prevent its workers from entering the construction to work on the pipeline on that Monday. By that afternoon, the number of protesters had grown to about 100.     (Last week’s standoff came after months of legal skirmishing. Dakota Access filed three eminent-domain lawsuits against coal companies this spring, for rights of way; and in April tribal members filed a lawsuit accusing Dakota Access and the Corps of Engineers of torts to land.)     Faced with the incipient, growing protest, Dakota Access left the site on Monday, Aug. 15, and returned the next day, to find the protest had grown to 200 people, watched by 45 law enforcement officers.     One protester had “a knife in his hand,” and was arrested after “some resistance;” others were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, preventing arrest, criminal trespass or fleeing a police officer, according to the company’s lawsuit.     The Morton County Sheriff’s Office told Courthouse News in an email that it “could not speak to the specifics of each arrest,” but that “unlawful actions that led to their arrests included breaching law enforcement lines, charging at officers with their horses and throwing objects at officers.”     “Our goal is to keep this situation peaceful and lawful, if at any time the protests become unlawful, law enforcement will take appropriate actions to mitigate the situation,” the Sheriff’s Office said.     When Judge Hovland granted Dakota Access its request for a temporary restraining order last Tuesday, to prevent unlawful actions from interfering with pipeline construction, it was more of a standoff than a victory.     Sheriff Kirschmeier said, and Energy Transfer Partners confirmed, that Dakota Access would stop work at the protest site, pending this week’s hearing.     Dakota Access did not respond to requests for comment.     The Standing Rock Sioux at the protest camp said they did not have an official spokesman.          Oil Boom and Bust in North Dakota      The standoff has been a big story in North Dakota, whose economy got a healthy jolt when tens of thousands of oil workers poured in when hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, made it economically feasible to extract oil from the Bakken Oil Field.     The boom, which began in 2006 and lasted until oil prices collapsed last year, gave the North Dakota treasury a rare $1 billion surplus as states nationwide faced growing deficits as a result of the great recession and tax-hating politicians.     Estimates of the value of the oil in the immense Bakken Oil Field vary wildly: from an initial estimate of 3.6 billion barrels, to a U.S. Geological survey estimate of 7.4 billion barrels, to fracking enthusiasts’ predictions of up to 24 billion barrels.     But the drilling bonanza made possible by fracking contributed to the collapse of oil prices worldwide, sending thousands of the transplanted oil workers back home from North Dakota, and leaving the oil industry, and economists, guessing.     Fracking is more expensive than traditional oil drilling, and the break-even point for oil fracked from the Bakken field has been estimated at $38 to $62 per barrel.     Brent crude, the benchmark for the oil market, was going at $50.72 per barrel on Friday.          A Visit to the Sioux Camp     The Sioux camp on the Cannonball river is a 200-mile drive from the state’s largest city, Fargo, a straight shot on Interstate 94 through flat farmland with little to look at but the state of the crops and the horizon.     When a leaky, dying battery forced a reporter into an auto shop in Mandan, the closest sizable town to the protest site, the cashier asked if the visitor had been questioned by police yet.     “No. Why?”     “Well, it’s all them Indians! I have cop friends on Facebook and they said they are going to start going door to door to make sure everyone is safe from these stupid protests. You know they got weapons out there and they are blocking the roads and assaulting people who come close to them.”     Have there been protests?     Yes, indeed, the young woman said.     “We don’t need the blockades out there. What we ought to do is just run them frickin’ Indians over if they want to stand on the highway!”     Six miles south of Mandan, police in body armor stood by a jerry-built concrete barrier stopping southbound traffic. An officer instructed the reporter how to get to the protest site, by a 50-mile detour.     The long trip led through the reservation town of Solen, pop. 83, according to the 2010 Census. A few mobile homes, a gas station, an auto shop, and on this day, a single horse munching grass near the highway: a real one-horse town.     Here the land rises in cliff and peaks, separated by valleys: a world apart from the featureless flatlands of Fargo. A high spot on Highway 24 grants a view of thousands of square miles: the land the Sioux have fought to keep, for centuries.     The Sacred Stone Spiritual Camp is a village of tipis, camping tents and horse trailers. A speaker system amplified ancient songs sung by young and old Sioux singers. Groups of men kidded one another over games of horseshoes. Little children with painted faces ran around, laughing and playing.     At the entrance to the camp, a man named Terry Phillips greeted an Anglo visitor: “Hi, parking is on the right.”     No one minded the visitor as he took an hourlong walk around the camp. Everyone at the camp seemed to be enjoying the afternoon.     “I’ve been out here since the beginning,” said Vivian Johnson a Standing Rock Sioux, as she watched her little granddaughter struggle to fix the flaps of their tipi. The poor little thing was too small to set up such a large house. But she was smart enough to tell a visitor how to do it.     Johnson said she appreciated the assistance.     “Everyone out here is related; we are all from the same people,” Johnson said. She pointed at the visitor’s pale, German-Irish face. “Even though some of the people are not the same color, we share the same cause and we are glad they are here.”     That was the mood that prevailed.     “Rumor has it we are all out here with rifles and pipe bombs,” Terry Phillips, the traffic director, said. “That’s just ridiculous. The closest thing I have seen to weapons out here is this.” He chuckled as he shook a Sioux coup stick, an ornamental stick decorated with feathers.     A passerby scoffed in a joking tone and said, “Pipe bomb? Every Indian out here could barely afford the bologna sandwich they came with.”     Elsewhere in the camp, a young Sioux man named Wahwala Mani (Walks Silent), said: “Everyone out here is here to protect the water. I am out here because it is my responsibility to do what I can for my family, because I love this way of life. These rumors about the weapons are just unreal. We wouldn’t be out here with our children, our families, if that were the case.”     As the sun set, a light rainstorm picked up, but did not disperse the peaceful crowd. Some gathered around the singers’ and speakers’ platform, where Mekasi Horinek, from the Ponca Nation in Oklahoma, took the mike for an impromptu speech.     “Like Custer’s last stand, this is Dakota Access’s last stand, because we as a people are united,” Horinek said, to applause.     After his brief speech, Horinek said his Custer’s last stand comment had a point to it. The police blockade had fallen back north from the protest site to Fort Lincoln, along the 1806 highway, a plot of land occupied by Custer’s home.     Horinek said the pipe bomb rumor came from a remark made by some elders, who said as the protest began that it might be time to load the chanupa — the ceremonial pipe — a well-known and sacred object to many Native Americans.     

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Farm Bureau Sues N. Dakota, for Corporations

FARGO, N.D. (CN) — Backed by the North Dakota Farm Bureau, farmers in two states slapped North Dakota with a federal complaint, challenging a law that severely restricts out-of-state corporations from farming or ranching there.     “North Dakota’s ban on corporate farming started in 1932 through an initiated measure,” the state Farm Bureau and farmers in North Dakota and Wisconsin say in the June 2 complaint. “The law prohibited all corporations from engaging in the business of farming and prohibited all corporations from owning farm land.”     The Anti-Corporate Farming Act has been amended repeatedly. A major revision in 1981 created exceptions for family-owned domestic corporations.     Other revisions followed in 1985, 1993 and 2015. The law is codified as Chapter 10-06.1 in the North Dakota Century Code. It still prohibits out-of-state corporations from keeping farmland, even if those entities are family-owned.     The Farm Bureau claims that violates the Commerce, Equal Protection, and Privileges and Immunities Clauses of the Constitution.     In 2015, North Dakota Senate Bill 2351 proposed “a narrow exception to domestic corporations involved in operating small dairy or swine operations,” according to the complaint. Those operations could not exceed 640 acres, under SB 2351.     Exemptions or not, in testimony and debate on the bill, legislators said they believe the law is unconstitutional on a number of grounds:     it is an “undue burden to interstate commerce;”     it “limits the ability of North Dakota farmers to obtain investors, which adversely affects their ability to secure financing, which is crucial to keeping their farm operations viable;”     and it “treats similarly situated individuals differently, affording to some corporations, limited liability companies and other persons opportunities while denying this opportunity to others.”     SB 2351 is making headlines in North Dakota, as a referendum to overturn it — Referred Measure 1 — will appear on the June 14 ballot. It is the only referendum issue on the ballot, which will be the state’s primary election for state offices.     SB 2351 and Referred Measure 1 have created a schism among North Dakota farmers.     The Farm Bureau wants to open the door wider for corporate farms. The Farmers Union defends the interests of family farms from corporate competition.     The Farmers Union describes itself as the largest farm organization in the state, with more than 40,000 member families. It backs legislation that supports agricultural co-ops.     The North Dakota Farmers Union fought to get Referred Measure 1 on the ballot. A vote “For” the measure would uphold SB 2351 as amended, allowing domestic corporations and LLCs to own and operate dairy and swine farms on no more than 640 acres.     A vote “Against” Referred Measure 1 would repeal SB 2351.     The Farm Bureau supports the ballot measure.     Farm Bureau President Daryl Lies told The Bismarck Tribune that “the state’s farmers should have the same opportunities as other businesses in the state to craft a corporate structure from which to operate.” Lies said similar anti-corporate laws have been overturned in South Dakota and Nebraska.     North Dakota is one of nine states — all in the Midwest and Great Plains — with anti-corporate farm laws.     North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, the defendant, told the Bismarck Tribune his office had not been served with the lawsuit and could not comment.     Representatives from the North Dakota Farmers Bureau did not respond to a phone call requesting comment.     Jumping on a chance to weigh in on a contention issue, the Farm Bureau’s lawsuit also claims that allowing corporate farming will hurt North Dakota by encouraging illegal immigration.     During debate on SB 2351, according to the complaint, “new comments emerged from members of the North Dakota Legislature, stating they were concerned that outside migrant workers would be coming into the state in order to work for the farming corporations and those migrant workers would utilize North Dakota tax dollars for benefits such as food stamps.”     The Farm Bureau asks the court to declare the Anti-Corporate Farming Act unconstitutional, and enjoin its enforcement.     It is represented by Sarah Andrews Herman, with Dorsey & Whitney.

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‘Red Man’ Lyric Must Go, School Prez Says

     FARGO, N.D. (CN) – North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani says a stanza in the school fight song has to go, for referring to Native Americans as “the Red Man.”     Two North Dakota State faculty members wrote “The Yellow and Green” fight song in 1908.     Its third stanza says: “Hushed upon the boundless prairies is the bison’s thund’ring tread, and the red man passes with him on his spoilers’ bounty fed.”     Bresciani has sent a letter to students, staff and alumni promising that the school will remove the language.     North Dakota State hosts an anonymous forum in which campus and community members can address issues of racism and bigotry on campus.     The Forum, Fargo’s daily newspaper, reported that the initial complaint about the fight song came from the school’s anonymous forum. It stated: “Pretty sure we shouldn’t be using ‘the red man.’”     Inforum.com, a Fargo news site, reported in February that President Bresciani and many students said they had never heard the fight song beyond the first verse.     When the third stanza was brought to Bresciani’s attention, he immediately said it had to go.     “I believe it is important to share my reactions with you, as they reflect a commitment to maintaining the diverse, welcoming and supportive campus community we all value,” President Bresciani wrote in an open letter to the NDSU community.     In November last year, the University of North Dakota changed its nickname from the “Fighting Sioux” to the “Fighting Hawks” after a long voting process, in which representatives of some, but not all of North Dakotas Sioux tribes objected to the name.     North Dakota State University’s public relations office did not respond to a phone call seeking comment on the fight song.

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Fighting Sioux Have Become Fighting Hawks

     FARGO, N.D. (CN) – The University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux are a relic of history, after a long, contentious process ended with students and alumni voting to replace the school mascot with the Fighting Hawks.     The university began its hunt for a new name 10 years ago, when the NCAA banned the use of Native American nicknames without tribal support. The UND was given a grace period to seek support from the Sioux Tribes, and though North Dakota’s Spirit Lake Sioux put the issue to a vote and tribal members favored keeping the Fighting Sioux , the Standing Rock Sioux, also of North Dakota, opposed it.     The Fighting Sioux was officially retired in 2012, though the name remained in common parlance.     After winnowing through more than 1,000 suggestions from the public, the school gave students, alumni, contributors and ticketholders a chance to vote online for a new name, but none of the five candidates got 50 percent + 1 vote.     Two runoff elections followed. The Fighting Hawks held a commanding lead from the first round on, and never relinquished it. The Hawks got 57.2 percent of the votes in the second runoff, beating out the Roughriders, at 42.8 percent.     The final round of voting saw the heaviest turnout, according to the Grand Forks Herald.     Voting was online, by students, alumni, faculty, staff, donors and season ticketholders.     The private nature of the voting process caused backlash from some members of the Sioux Tribes this year, as tribal members were not invited to vote unless they had one of the other prerequisite ties to the university.     A complaint was filed in Grand Forks County just days before the original vote was scheduled. Members of the Sioux Tribe attempted to halt the voting process.     “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,” plaintiffs said in their complaint.     A Fargo judge denied the request for an injunction, and the vote went off as scheduled.     Roughly 82,000 potential votes could have been cast – turnout for the final round came to just under 33 percent, with 27,000 votes cast.     The new nickname made its debut at Friday night’s hockey game against St. Cloud State, which the Fighting Hawks won, 4-3.     The UND hockey team is known for two things: Controversial names and winning hockey games. Both qualities were on display, as the St. Cloud venue was full of green-and-white-clad UND fans still chanting the name “Fighting Sioux.”

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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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Sioux Grumble as UND Votes for a New Name

     GRAND FORKS, N.D. (CN) – As University of North Dakota students, staff and alumni vote this week on a nickname to replace “The Fighting Sioux,” they have left out an important constituency – the Sioux themselves, tribal members say in court.     Alumni, students, staff, donors and season ticketholders can vote online this week until the polls close at midnight Friday, but members of the Sioux tribe and a state representative say the vote should be stopped because the Sioux were not consulted, and a popular name choice was left off the ballot.     A Fargo judge denied the request for a restraining order and injunction on Monday, finding the plaintiffs showed no support for their claim of irreparable harm.     After the ruling, state Rep. Richard Becker, a former president of the UND Alumni Association and one of the plaintiffs, told the Grand Forks Herald, “We obviously will regroup and consider what our options are.”     The vote, and the lawsuit, have deep roots in the Dakotas.     Lead plaintiff Lavonne Alberts et al. sued the University of North Dakota and the state on Oct. 15 in Grand Forks County Court, to try to stop or delay the online vote, which began as scheduled Monday.     Voters are offered five choices to replace “The Fighting Sioux,” which was the school dropped in 2012 due to public controversy and NCAA rules.     The choices are the Fighting Hawks, Nodaks, North Stars, Rough Riders and Sundogs. A UND task force selected them from 1,172 suggestions from the public.     If one name gets 50 percent plus 1 vote, it will become the school’s new mascot. If not, there will be a runoff between the two top vote-getters.     The election is not open to the general public. About 82,000 emails have been sent to UND students, alumni, faculty, staff, donors and season ticketholders containing a link to a private voting site.     Alberts calls the vote improper. Her grandmother, Alvina Alberts, participated with other tribal elders in a sacred pipe ceremony in 1969 “in which the Sioux Nation bestowed upon the University of North Dakota the Fighting Sioux name.”     “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,” the lawsuit states.     She also protests that the option of “UND” was not included on the ballot simply because defendant university President Robert Kelley, head of the task force, “didn’t like the name.”     The name UND has become popular among students and alumni, the complaint states. However, “Defendant Kelley made his position very public that he did not like that name [UND] despite the fact that the nickname UND, North Dakota is extremely popular among the UND faithful, and the favorite to win in any vote. Defendant Kelley exerted undue executive influence over the task force thereby causing the elimination of the UND nickname as a potential choice on the vote,” according to the complaint.     UND spokesman Peter Johnson told Courthouse News Monday: “The school’s name is North Dakota. It isn’t a nickname.”     During the controversy that led to the school’s dropping “The Fighting Sioux,” the NCAA said schools that wished to use Native American imagery and names needed support from the tribes involved.     North Dakota’s Spirit Lake Sioux put the issue to a vote, and tribal members favored keeping The Fighting Sioux, so the tribe endorsed it.     But the Standing Rock Sioux, also of North Dakota, insisted that UND drop the Sioux name, though that tribe did not put it to a public vote.     “There is no clear front-runner yet,” UND spokesman Johnson told Courthouse News. “The voting is being handled by a third party and is not being actively monitored. We won’t know until the vote closes.”     The third plaintiff is William Le Caine Sr., a UND alumnus who went on to play professional hockey, including a stint with the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins.

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Police See No Need|for Drone Weapons

     BISMARCK, N.D. (CN) – Fargo police say they have “no intention of weaponizing drones” though North Dakota has become the first state to allow it, so long as the weapons are not “lethal.”     One police lieutenant says he’s “perplexed” why the Legislature even enacted the law.      House Bill 1328 legalized weaponized drones for police use and surveillance. Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed the bill into law in April, three years after Rep. Rick Becker first introduced it. Both are Republicans.     Becker said his original purpose was to require police to get warrants before they could use drones to conduct surveillance on private citizens. The original bill, in 2013, prohibited weaponizing drones “in any fashion,” Becker told National Public Radio.     After he re-introduced the bill this year, it was amended to prohibit only lethal weapons. Becker told NPR the bill was amended because “law enforcement lobbyists” asked “to remove the prohibition on nonlethal weapons, and that, in fact, is what was done.”     Fargo police Lt. Michael Mitchell told Courthouse News his department is “perplexed, because we don’t see many reasons why we would use such technology.”     “It can take over two years to get FAA certification just to fly these things. It may be something for the long range, but for now we aren’t even looking at it,” Mitchell said.     North Dakota Peace Officers Association President Michael Reitan said the law is somewhat ambiguous. Rubber bullets or beanbags could be categorized as non-lethal, though they have the potential to inflict lethal harm.     “Weapons actually come in three different types of category – lethal, which everyone is familiar with as far as a handgun,” Reitan told NPR. “Less than lethal are those weapons that fire rubber bullets, beanbags, that type of thing – not meant to be lethal, but they could be.     “And then there’s non-lethal, and we talked about pepper spray. My interpretation of the way the bill is written – when it says lethal weapons are prohibited, it would be both the less lethal and the lethal weapons.”     The ACLU calls police use of weaponized drones “a terrible idea.”     “Drones make it too easy to use force,” and “‘Non-lethal’ weapons aren’t actually non-lethal,” the ACLU said in an Aug. 27 statement. It also objected that the bill will “open the door to increasing weaponization,” “increase the militarization of police,” and that the increased distance of weapons shot from drones makes them inaccurate.     At least three states – Oregon, Virginia and Wisconsin – have prohibited any sorts of weapons on drones.     The Fargo Police Department told Courthouse News: “This technology may be useful for search and rescue operations as it would save a lot of man hours, but the Fargo Police have no intention of weaponizing drones or using them for surveillance, especially since we live in such a rural area.”

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‘Fighting Sioux’ Search for a New Mascot

     FARGO, N.D. (CN) – After 16 years of controversy, the University of North Dakota may be near to selecting a new mascot for its sports teams to replace the name the “Fighting Sioux.”     Roughriders, Sundogs and North Stars appear to be the favorites today, but the race is too close to call.     Students, faculty, athletes and the Sioux have been at odds on whether the Fighting Sioux name recognizes a proud culture, or is just another racist sports moniker.     Public controversy began in 1999 when several tribes, UND faculty and student organizations led a campaign to change what they considered an offensive mascot.     That same year the state House considered and rejected a bill to change the name, but the controversy continued.     In 2001 alumnus Ralph Engelstad donated $100 million to build a new sports arena named after him. Nicknamed “The Ralph,” the stadium cost $104 million. Engelstad’s donation came with conditions, including that the Fighting Sioux would remain the logo and mascot.     The controversy heated up in 2005 when the NCAA decided to sanction schools whose mascots featured Native American tribes. The NCAA said the names could be interpreted as “hostile or abusive,” but said schools could keep them if the tribe agreed to it.     North Dakota’s Spirit Lake Tribe put the issue to a tribal vote, which favored the Fighting Sioux, and the tribe officially supported it.     But the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council insisted that the university stop using the name, though it never put the issue to a vote from tribal members.     The NCAA granted UND a grace period to gain support from the state’s tribes.     The United States today recognizes nine Sioux tribes. Anglo anthropologists identify three major linguistic tribal divisions, loosely classified in English as Yankton, Santee and Lakota.     The university said in a newsletter that it received many signatures from Native Americans on a petition defending the mascot and logo, but it failed to gain all nine tribes’ support within the NCAA’s timeframe.     So in autumn 2014 the “UND Nickname and Logo Process Recommendation Task Force” was created to find a new name and logo.     “The University of North Dakota is not going to focus on the past. We are here today and we plan to move forward,” Executive Associate Vice President for University Relations Peter Johnson told Courthouse News.     The university said on its website that it hoped the task force would choose a name by January this year, but that has not happened.     According to the Grand Forks Herald, names still in the running include Fighting Hawks, Green Hawks, Nodaks, North Stars, Roughriders and Sundogs. A seventh option is to continue with the current team name, simply UND/North Dakota.     The seven names came from a pool of 1,172 acceptable options submitted to the university from the public.     Under a points system, the Sundogs and North Stars are tied for second place, just short of the Roughriders.     But the Roughriders hold the lead by just two points, making the selection process a tight race with no predictable outcome.     Eventually, the names will be put to a public vote. The process is expected to be concluded by this fall – in time for hockey season.     The Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council did not respond to a request for comment.

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