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Protest set calling for UND president's resignation, 'North Dakota' moniker option

GRAND FORKS - A group expects 500 to 1,000 people will rally Saturday, Aug. 22, in Grand Forks to support the UND/North Dakota option and call for the university's president to resign immediately.

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Krista Easterday organized a protest regarding the UND nickname on Friday, July 24, 2015, in Grand Forks, N.D. A similar protest sanctioned by The Sioux Were Silenced is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 22. Logan Werlinger / Forum News Service.
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GRAND FORKS – A group expects 500 to 1,000 people will rally Saturday, Aug. 22, in Grand Forks to support the UND/North Dakota option and call for the university’s president to resign immediately.

The Sioux Were Silenced, which started as a social media campaign, announced in a news release the rally will take place 4:30-6:30 p.m. at University Park. The group has invited the public and expects about 1,000 participants, spokesman Kevin Riley said.

“There is a lot of energy for it,” he told the Grand Forks Herald. “I think really what this is about is we really don’t believe this heated, hot-topic discussion and decision should be made by our outgoing president.”

The group, which has shown support for the Fight Sioux nickname, will gather to oppose a UND committee’s decision to eliminate the option of playing with no nickname.

UND retired the Fighting Sioux moniker in 2012 after the NCAA threatened sanctions for violating its rules barring members from using Native American imagery. The school has since played as UND/North Dakota.

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After almost a year of gathering and narrowing down suggestions for UND’s new nickname, a committee approved six names -- Fighting Hawks, Nodaks, Sundogs, North Stars and Roughriders -- for a final vote. President Robert Kelley, who must approve the submissions first, said he would consider adding the option of playing as UND/North Dakota back to the list for a public vote.

The rally is also intended to oppose Kelley’s leadership and call for his immediate resignation “due to the lack of trust from a strong majority of UND stakeholders,” Riley said in the release.

Kelley announced earlier this summer he would officially retire as UND’s president on Jan. 15.

The rally coincides with the weekend ahead of UND’s first day of school, meaning students will be arriving on campus as the group shows support for the UND/North Dakota option.

Riley emphasized the gathering is a peaceful rally and not a protest.

“It’s not a protest at all,” he said. “It’s just a rally just to kind of draw some attention to the fact that Mr. Kelley should not be making this decision and that … the time is not right yet.”

The release added “delegation from the Spirit Lake and Standing Rock Sioux tribes will conduct a ceremony honoring the tribal elders who gave the gift of the Fighting Sioux name to UND in the name of education back in 1969.”

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