(Fightin’ Siouxsie, weary of being a political hockey puck)

From the AP/St. Paul Pioneer Press and Dave Kolpak.

North Dakota officials are taking the NCAA to court to challenge its restrictions on the University of North Dakota’s Fighting Sioux nickname. An NCAA spokesman says the governing body of college sports is ready for the fight.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said the lawsuit, filed Friday in Northeast Central District Court in Grand Forks, alleges a breach of contract by the NCAA, a breach of good faith and illegal restraint of trade.

Stenehjem said the lawsuit seeks to allow the UND to use the nickname throughout the school year without being sanctioned in possible postseason play. It also seeks unspecified money damages.

The NCAA has banned the use of some American Indian nicknames and logo in postseason tournaments, saying they are hostile and abusive. Stenehjem said agency overstepped its bounds.

“This is about a process to be followed by the NCAA,” he said.

“Frankly, I don’t think that anybody, regardless of how they feel about the result, should be satisfied or pleased with the process,” Stenehjem said.

Christopher Peltier, president of the UND Indian Association, said his group is focusing “on fundraising efforts and building unity,” not the nickname issue. In March, the group passed a resolution opposing the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo.

“My personal opinion is to keep it a personal opinion,” Peltier said Friday. “If somebody wants to be against it, that’s fine. If somebody wants to be for it, that’s fine. I’m not going to tell them they’re wrong.”

One official with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe wrote a letter supporting the university, but another opposed the nickname.

Tex Hall, chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes, said tribal officials on his reservation will consider whether to file court documents supporting the NCAA. Hall said it is ironic that the state filed its lawsuit on “First Nations Day,” which was designated by the Legislature to honor tribal contributions to the state.