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Goetz: More dialogue needed on Fighting Sioux nickname

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MAYVILLE - A direction on how to proceed with the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux nickname should be more clear when a new president assumes office in July.

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North Dakota University System Chancellor Bill Goetz said the issue should not be placed on the shoulders of incoming president Robert Kelley.

Goetz gave a report to the state Board of Higher Education Thursday after meeting with Standing Rock Chairman Ron His Horse Is Thunder and having extensive phone conversations with Spirit Lake Chairwoman Myra Pearson.

A settlement with the NCAA gives the state three years to gain approval from the two tribes for the Fighting Sioux nickname or begin retiring it.

Goetz said he will continue to be the liaison between the board and the tribes on the issue.

He said opening the doors of communication with tribal leaders was the first step toward reaching a resolution.

Goetz plans to continue the dialogue and wants to involve a small group of people from other constituencies, including UND and the Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Although some tribal leaders have said attempts to gain approval of the nickname would be a waste of time, Goetz said it would be irresponsible to retire the nickname without dialogue.

Tribal leaders told Goetz they have felt pressure on the nickname issue, which he said he will not tolerate.

"We have to let the tribes make their own decisions," Goetz said.

The nickname issue is becoming increasingly emotional and divisive for American Indians and non-Indians, Goetz said.

Board President John Q. Paulsen said Goetz should continue his work and report back to the board.

In other business:

*Board members unanimously approved requests from development foundations at North Dakota State University and UND to issue 30-year bonds for presidents' homes. William Marcil and his wife, Jane, have pledged $1 million to each campus through their charitable foundation to fund the projects. The financing of the projects also will leave each university with significant scholarship endowments. The recommendation will now go before the Legislature's Budget Section.

*Board members set the salary range for the next Lake Region State College president at $130,000 to $165,000. The board is meeting Wednesday to interview two finalists and name a president.

The Forum and The Dickinson Press are owned by the Forum Communications Company.

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