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Fighting Sioux logo to be retired unless 30-year agreement isn't reach with Sioux tribes by Oct. 1.

Family of Ralph Engelstad 'deeply disappointed' by 'lack of conviction'

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GRAND FORKS - The Ralph Engelstad family is upset with the North Dakota Board of Higher Education's decision to accelerate the deadline for tribal approval of UND's Fighting Sioux nickname, according to a statement the family's foundation issued Friday.

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"I am deeply disappointed that the State Board and President Kelley are not committed to retaining the Fighting Sioux name and logo," said Kris Engelstad McGarry, daughter of the builder of Ralph Engelstad Arena on campus. "However I can't say that I'm surprised by their lack of conviction. This is a sad day for North Dakota."

She's referring to university President Robert Kelley.

The state board on Thursday required UND to get a 30-year agreement with the tribes by Oct. 1, which some, including Kelley, consider all but impossible.

Ralph Engelstad was a strong supporter of UND hockey team and, along with it, the team nickname and logo.

Nickname opponents claim the nickname and logo are racist and demeaning.

McGarry noted the overwhelming support of one of two North Dakota Sioux tribes that were allowed to vote on the nickname. "We stand with 67 percent of tribal members at Spirit Lake who believe the identification with a fine university is a relationship which would have continued to bring benefit and opportunities to the Sioux citizens."

Nickname supporters in the Standing Rock Sioux tribe are seeking a referendum there but many tribal leaders are opposed to it. Chairman Ron His Horse is Thunder said he believes they wouldn't issue a resolution of support even if their members did vote for the nickname.

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Statement from the Engelstad Family Foundation - May 15, 2009

In response to the resolution passed by the State Board of Higher Education the following statement is being released by the Engelstad Family Foundation.

"My father was immensely proud as a student-athlete to be identified with the Fighting Sioux and its proud and honored heritage," commented Kris Engelstad McGarry, daughter of Ralph Engelstad. "We stand with the 67% of tribal members at Spirit Lake who believe the identification with a fine university is a relationship which would have continued to bring benefit and opportunities to the Sioux citizens.

"I am deeply disappointed that the State Board and President Kelly are not committed to retaining the Fighting Sioux name and logo, however I can't say that I'm surprised by their lack of conviction. This is a sad day for North Dakota.

"We remain steadfast in our dedication to the students, the alumni, and the traditions established at UND.

"I feel it necessary to once again answer the question of why this issue is so important to us. As my father has stated, "Tradition is that gentle fabric woven through time and experience which generates meaning, character and identity to one and all. The Fighting Sioux logo, the Fighting Sioux tradition and the spirit of being a Fighting Sioux are of lasting value and immeasurable significance to our past, present and future."

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