SIOUX NICKNAME: Standing Rock veterans to visit UND
A group of veterans from the Standing Rock Sioux reservation will visit UND on Monday and Tuesday led by Ralph Engelstad Arena envoy Sam Dupris. Dupris said the group will tour campus and meet with top UND officials, including President Charles K...
A group of veterans from the Standing Rock Sioux reservation will visit UND on Monday and Tuesday led by Ralph Engelstad Arena envoy Sam Dupris.
Dupris said the group will tour campus and meet with top UND officials, including President Charles Kupchella. Kupchella's office could not confirm the meeting early Friday.
This will likely be the first meeting between tribal and university leaders since Oct. 26, when UND settled a yearlong legal battle with the NCAA over the school's Fighting Sioux nickname and logo.
That settlement gives UND three years to win tribal council approval from both the state's Sioux reservations or retire its nickname and logo.
The Standing Rock Tribal Council has officially opposed the Fighting Sioux nickname since 2001. Tribal Chairman Ron His Horse Is Thunder has said he does not expect the council to change its position.
Dupris began visiting the state's Sioux reservations last summer, in what REA General Manager Jody Hodgson described as a diplomatic approach running parallel to the legal front in the nickname battle.
Now that the lawsuit has been settled, the approval or resistance of Sioux officials has moved to the center of the nickname debate.
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Dupris is a retired FAA administrator and enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. He said Friday that his primary job is to help tribal members learn more about UND and that hasn't been changed by the settlement.
"That's not my department," he said of the settlement. "I just deal with the people and let them take a look at UND and make people available so they can talk to them one on one. That's what I promised them."
Dupris led a similar tour in early October, during which Standing Rock veterans met with President Kupchella, UND Police Chief Duane Czapiewski and other officials, he said. Dupris has criticized nickname opponents as a small, vocal "group of militants," and has accused them of taking over the nickname debate and intimidating those who oppose them.
He said Friday that October's campus tour gave veteran's a truer picture of UND.
"It was eye opening for them," he said. "It dispelled all the rumors and innuendo and garbage they've heard for years and years."
Ed Black Cloud, former acting chairman of the Standing Rock Veterans Group board, was along on the October tour. He said the group's primary interest was in learning what life is like for American Indian students on campus.
UND Police Chief Daune Czapiewski said the group asked him about harassment of American Indians on campus.
"It was an opportunity for them to ask questions about issues they've heard about from other people," Czapiewski said. "They wanted to determine how much harassment (of American Indian students) does occur on campus. The amount that's reported to us is relatively minimal, but there have been one or two incidents over the years. We've not had one for an extended period."
The group also asked American Indian students who were doing homework at the American Indian Student Services Center what they thought of the nickname, Black Cloud said.
"From what we heard, they were kind of against it," Black Cloud said. "We also met with some students who had no objection to the logo. They expressed the feeling that no matter where they went to school they were going to run into the same kinds of problems."
Black Cloud, who will not be on this week's tour, said the group hoped to meet with more students this time around.
The Standing Rock Veterans Group board voted to officially support the Fighting Sioux nickname in August during a meeting with Dupris, but withdrew that support a few days later when several veterans and other tribe members called them expressing opposition to the nickname.
Black Cloud, who was acting chairman during the August votes, said the group may take up the nickname issue again, but that will be left to the group's new chairman, Cliff Walking Elk.
Herald attempts to reach Walking Elk were unsuccessful Thursday and Friday.
The Veterans Group board was created as an advisory board to Standing Rock's veterans service officer and has no authority over the actions of the tribal council, the reservation's governing body.
Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem represented UND in the nickname case. He has suggested state government officials should take the lead in nickname negotiations with the tribes, but no formal plans have been announced.
When the terms of the nickname settlement were first discussed, Standing Rock Chairman Ron His Horse Is Thunder said he worried it would lead to UND lobbying tribal members who would then put pressure on the tribal council.
Stenehjem said at the time that such lobbying was inevitable, but he hoped the focus would remain on government-to-government negotiations.
Marks reports on higher education. Reach him at (701) 780-1105, (800) 477-6572, ext. 105; or email@example.com .