Grand Forks arena to display tribal flags

Grand Forks, North Dakota (AP) 10-08

Ralph Engelstad Arena on the University of North Dakota campus plans to permanently display the flags of two American Indian tribes whose consent is needed for the university to retain its “Fighting Sioux” nickname and Indian head logo.

Leaders of the Standing Rock and Spirit Lake tribes are not endorsing the move.

The flags of the two tribes are to be unveiled Oct. 5 before a UND men’s hockey game. The on-ice ceremony is to feature Indian singers and drummers.

Arena general manager Jody Hodgson declined to comment on the reasoning behind the flags. “It would be premature for me to comment on it at this point,” he said.

Hodgson said he respects the opinions of nickname opponents but that the arena remains “unequivocally” committed to using the nickname.


A settlement with the NCAA reached last October requires UND to gain approval from the Spirit Lake and Standing Rock tribal councils to retain the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo, or they will have to be retired. The deadline is Nov. 30, 2010.

A flier for the flag event says the ceremony will include a history of the Fighting Sioux logo given by a Standing Rock member and a “position of support” of the nickname presented by a Spirit Lake representative.

The leaders of the two tribes oppose the nickname.

“They’re trying to make it appear they’re honoring us, and they’re trying to make it appear they support us, and that’s just not the case,” Standing Rock Chairman Ron His Horse Is Thunder said of the flags.

His Horse Is Thunder said that as part of a protest last year, he took down his tribe’s flag at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in Montana. He said the fact that Ralph Engelstad Arena is on private land would prevent him from doing the same in Grand Forks.

“I wish I could go there and take the flag down and say, ‘No, you’re not going to fly our flag here,”’ he said.

Spirit Lake Chairwoman Myra Pearson said she had not been told about the flag ceremony.

“They walk on our logos at the Ralph,” she said of the thousands of Fighting Sioux logos in the facility. “Who cares what else they do?”