Sioux Nickname Debate

 The Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D., is caught in the middle of a lawsuit filed by Spirit Lake Sioux tribal members regarding the University of North Dakota’s Fighting Sioux nickname and logo. Venue reps say they’re not a party to the action.

The $104 million facility, home to the Fighting Sioux, is named for UND alumni and patron Ralph Engelstad who contributed $100 million to finance the facility’s construction. He reportedly did so under the stipulation the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo not be changed.

The dispute reportedly began with a 2005 NCAA ruling claiming the college’s use of the nickname and logo is considered hostile toward Native Americans and could cost UND the chance to host postseason tournaments.

UND officials sued but reportedly agreed to a 2007 settlement to drop the nickname and logo after Nov. 30, 2010, unless the local tribes give their approval.

The lawsuit seeks to delay the North Dakota Board of Higher Education’s ruling whether to get rid of the nickname and logo before the deadline.

Spirit Lake tribal members are supportive of the nickname and logo and want it to stay, according to the lawsuit.

“The plaintiffs … strongly believe to lose this identification with North Dakota’s oldest institution of higher education will cause isolation and a diminishing of public interest, knowledge and respect for the Sioux history and culture, and will be detrimental and not in the best interests of their people,” the suit says.

A judge has scheduled a hearing on the debate for Dec. 9.