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Higher ed official to meet with Standing Rock chairman on UND nickname

When the North Dakota University System chancellor speaks with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe chairman today, two questions he might ask would be will the Tribal Council ever talk about UND's Fighting Sioux nickname, and, if so, when?...

UND logo
UND logo

When the North Dakota University System chancellor speaks with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe chairman today, two questions he might ask would be will the Tribal Council ever talk about UND's Fighting Sioux nickname, and, if so, when?

"It would be nice to know what the intent of the council might be as far as holding a referendum," said State Board of Higher Education President Richie Smith.

The board, which oversees the university system, has indicated it's anxious to resolve the controversy so UND could apply to join the Summit League athletic conference, and has imposed several deadlines, the last one Oct. 31.

But Standing Rock Chairman Charles W. Murphy has told the state board that he would be willing to talk about the issue, but not under a deadline. This set the stage for today's meeting.

But it appears Chancellor Bill Goetz will be the only higher education official to meet with Murphy. NDUS spokeswoman Debra Anderson said that, as far as she knew, it will be a one-on-one meeting.

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She didn't have other details, such as time and place, and said the chancellor was booked for the day and could not speak to reporters.

Asked why no high-level official would accompany Goetz, Smith said he felt "the chancellor is pretty high-level."

Goetz is the university system's top administrative official, but he still answers to the state board. Murphy is the tribe's top executive, on equal footing with the Tribal Council.

Asked if Goetz would speak with any state board officials, such as Smith, after his meeting, Anderson said her understanding is he will wait until the board's Nov. 19 meeting in Minot to make his report.

Standing Rock's position on the nickname is critical both because of the state board's anxiety with ending the controversy and because the settlement between the state and the NCAA, which considers American Indian nicknames offensive, requires the support of both Sioux tribes in the state.

The Spirit Lake Dakotah Nation has already agreed to the nickname use after a referendum in which 67 percent of voters supported the nickname. So far, Standing Rock's Tribal Council, voted into office in September, has not discussed the nickname at all.

Reach Tran at (701) 780-1248; (800) 477-6572, ext. 248; or send e-mail to ttran@gfherald.com .

Related Topics: STANDING ROCK SIOUX TRIBE
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