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Standing Rock Sioux board recinds UND nickname support

Members of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation's Veterans' Group board voted 3-2 Wednesday night to rescind their two-day-old support for UND's Fighting Sioux nickname and logo.

Members of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation's Veterans' Group board voted 3-2 Wednesday night to rescind their two-day-old support for UND's Fighting Sioux nickname and logo.

The board voted unanimously to support the nickname during a meeting Monday, but board members later were inundated with calls from Standing Rock veterans and other tribe members expressing opposition to the nickname, said Ed Black Cloud, the board's acting chairman.

"There were a lot of things we didn't know about when we made that motion," Black Cloud said, later adding, "we didn't know about the treatment of Indian students (at UND)."

The group likely will take the matter up again after a scheduled tour of UND's campus and meetings with UND and Ralph Engelstad Arena officials in September, Black Cloud said after Wednesday's vote in McLaughlin, S.D.

"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 REA.

During that meeting, Dupris described for board members a memorial wall honoring the state's Sioux veterans that REA officials are considering building by one of the arena's entrances.

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, which bears thousands of Sioux logos, has been a major focus of attention in the Sioux nickname debate.

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.

Standing Rock's tribal council has officially opposed UND's nickname since 2001. Black Cloud said Monday he believed the nickname had wide support among the tribe's veterans. After the extensive response to the board's resolution, he said, he's come to believe more veterans oppose the nickname than he initially thought. Standing Rock has about 8,500 members, according to the tribe's Web site.

Terry Yellow Fat is a Standing Rock veteran and a nickname opponent. He served briefly on the veteran's group board about six months ago, filling out the term of another member who resigned.

Yellow Fat said he wasn't at Monday's meeting, but he thinks the board didn't gather enough information or consult enough people before casting their votes.

"I think they should have gone out and taken some kind of poll of how veterans feel throughout the reservation," he said. "I feel like it's the old 'divide and conquer' again. The decision should not have been made hastily, but I feel it was."


Valerie Hill, a disabled veteran of the first Gulf War was more critical of board members.

"As veterans, our main job is to support people and take care of people, and I don't see that happening," she said. "Some veterans can be bought and some can't, and I can't be. A lot of us veterans can't be bought, not with a monument or anything else."

Veteran's Group board members listened to audience members for about half an hour before casting their votes Wednesday night, said H. Grey Cutler, commander of Standing Rock's Vietnam Veteran's Association, who attended the meeting.

Standing Rock Tribal Board Member Jesse Taken Alive spoke at length to the group about the history of the Sioux nickname and the fight to have it retired, Cutler said. In 1999, Taken Alive was instrumental in gathering resolutions opposing the nickname from North and South Dakota Sioux tribes.

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.

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