Standing Rock Sioux board rescinds nickname support

Grand Forks, North Dakota (AP) 9-07

The chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation’s Veterans’ Group board says the group voted 3-2 to rescind its support for the University of North Dakota’s Fighting Sioux nickname and logo after getting calls from tribal members.

Board members had voted unanimously to support the nickname during August. Then they were inundated with calls from Standing Rock veterans and other tribal members opposed to the nickname, said Ed Black Cloud, the board’s acting chairman. The tribal board likely will take the matter up again after a scheduled tour of UND’s campus and meetings with UND and Ralph Engelstad Arena officials this September, Black Cloud said.

“We still want to hear what they have to say, and we’ll decide what we decide,” Black Cloud said. “There are a lot of different things we have to talk about.”

The board’s initial vote supporting the nickname came during a visit by Sam Dupris, an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River (S.D.) Sioux Tribe and a decorated Korean War veteran who is touring North Dakota’s Sioux tribes as an envoy for the Engelstad arena.

Dupris described for board members a memorial wall being planned at the arena to honor Sioux veterans.

Arena general manager Jody Hodgson has called Dupris’ reservation visits a “diplomatic course” to repair strained relations between the arena and tribal officials stemming from UND’s lawsuit against the NCAA. The arena has thousands of Sioux logos.

UND is suing the NCAA over a 2005 policy barring schools with American Indian logos and nicknames from displaying those logos and nicknames during postseason play or hosting playoff games. The NCAA considers such nicknames and logos hostile and abusive.

Standing Rock’s tribal council has officially opposed UND’s nickname since 2001. Black Cloud said he believed the nickname had wide support among the tribe’s veterans but later said he found more veterans oppose the nickname than he orginally thought.

The Standing Rock has about 8,500 members, according to the tribe’s Web site.

“I think they should have gone out and taken some kind of poll of how veterans feel throughout the reservation,” said Terry Yellow Fat, a Standing Rock veteran and nickname opponent. “I feel like it’s the old ‘divide and conquer’ again. The decision should not have been made hastily, but I feel it was.”

Veteran’s Group board members listened to audience members for about half an hour before casting their votes Aug. 29, to rescind nickname support, said H. Grey Cutler, commander of Standing Rock’s Vietnam Veteran’s Association, who attended the meeting.

Cutler said Dupris did not attend the meeting and no audience members spoke in support of the nickname.

Hodgson has said Dupris does not want to comment on his role with the arena and Dupris has not returned calls to his home.

In a letter sent to University of North Dakota President Charles Kupchella, leaders of the Cheyenne River tribe said Dupris does not represent the tribe, which has formally opposed the nickname.