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North Dakota must get tribes' approval to keep Fighting Sioux name

BISMARCK, N.D. -- North Dakota's Board of Higher Education
has approved a schedule for discarding the University of North
Dakota's Fighting Sioux nickname and Indian head logo if two
prominent Sioux tribes hold firm in their desire to dump them.

The timeline directs William Goetz, the chancellor of the
university system, to form a committee within the next two months
to discuss the issue with leaders of the Standing Rock and Spirit
Lake Sioux tribes.

The panel should meet at least twice with Sioux leaders during
2009, the timeline says. If there is no agreement to allow
continued use of the name and logo, it says, UND should begin
planning in January 2010 to retire them.

Tribal leaders have said they want the university to drop its
nickname and logo. If their stand changes, negotiations between UND
and tribal leaders may continue until Nov. 30, 2010, according to
the timeline.

The document says the chancellor's discussion committee also
should continue its work until November 2010, even if UND is
planning at the same time to retire the nickname and logo.

Board members voted 8-0 during a conference call Thursday to
approve the document. Its goals may be changed if a majority of
board members agree to do so, board president Richie Smith said.

Goetz said the discussion committee should have six months
instead of two years to arrange meetings with tribal leaders. The
shorter time would help "get this issue behind us," he said.

"What's behind that is ... my ongoing concern about the
university, the challenges that it is facing with a decision that
continues to be undecided [and] lacks direction," Goetz added. "I
am particularly sensitive to the environment [at UND], the
polarization."

UND's new hockey and basketball arena was built by alumnus Ralph
Engelstad, a fervent supporter of the nickname and logo. The
arena's floors, seats and walls have thousands of reproductions of
the Indian head logo, and its exterior proclaims it as the "Home
of the Fighting Sioux."

Unless the Standing Rock and Spirit Lake Sioux tribes endorse
UND's retention of the nickname and logo by Nov. 30, 2010, the NCAA
will ban the university's athletics teams from using them during
postseason play. UND also would be barred from holding NCAA
tournaments.

The deadline was part of a settlement of a UND lawsuit against
the NCAA, which challenged the process the association used to
determine that UND should be penalized. The NCAA believes the
nickname and logo promote racial divisiveness, a conclusion
university supporters dispute.