Don’t expect changes at REANothing will be changing in Ralph Engelstad Arena if general manager Jody Hodgson has anything to say about it. Despite Thursday’s ruling by the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education to begin retiring the Fighting Sioux name and logo, the privately owned arena — with an estimated 3,000 Sioux logos in it — might remain in its current state.
By: By Brad Schlossman, Grand Forks Herald, The Jamestown Sun
Nothing will be changing in Ralph Engelstad Arena if general manager Jody Hodgson has anything to say about it.
Despite Thursday’s ruling by the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education to begin retiring the Fighting Sioux name and logo, the privately owned arena — with an estimated 3,000 Sioux logos in it — might remain in its current state.
Speaking from Chicago, Hodgson again debunked the urban legend that there’s a secret document from Ralph Engelstad calling for the closing of the 11,640-seat venue if the nickname ever changes.
In fact, Hodgson says it is his wish that nothing changes at all.
“The first thing I have to do is fully analyze and understand what’s happened today,” Hodgson said. “I’ll have to discuss this with the board (of directors) as well. But, if I have anything to do with it, nothing in the building will ever change. Nobody will ever be allowed to change anything.
“It would be the utmost sign of disrespect if anybody ever tries to deface that building. If I have anything to say on the matter, that will never happen. Never.”
It is unknown whether the NCAA would grant Ralph Engelstad Arena a men’s hockey regional or a women’s Frozen Four if the thousands of logos stay. But Hodgson said the arena won’t make any decisions based on the NCAA’s thoughts.
“I could care less,” Hodgson said. “Sometimes, you’ve got to stand up for what’s right.”
Hodgson, a member of the board of directors at the arena, said he and members of the Engelstad Foundation were “deeply disappointed and deeply saddened” by the State Board’s decision.
“It’s obvious that it was never about how the Native Americans felt,” Hodgson said. “If they wanted to honor the Native Americans, they would have honored their wishes. Nobody has ever proven that they don’t want the name and logo.
“If Standing Rock voted and wanted to change the nickname, I’d be the guy at the front of the group saying it’s time to change this thing. But I don’t believe that would ever happen. I believe a significant majority want us to maintain the name and logo.”
Hodgson points to the reservation-wide vote at Spirit Lake, which overwhelmingly approved of the Fighting Sioux nickname and the 1,000-plus signatures gathered by nickname supporters at Standing Rock in an effort to put the nickname issue to a reservation-wide vote there.
In a settlement with the NCAA, UND needed to get approval from both tribes by Nov. 30 in order to keep the nickname.
The State Board decided to begin the process of retirement before that date, though.
“The only urgency in the matter is that those that wanted to see the nickname and logo change were beginning to think that it might be approved,” Hodgson said. “They thought, ‘We better get these things changed because we might have both tribes approving this thing.’ That’s the only conclusion I can come to.”
Hodgson said he communicated with Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Charles W. Murphy a day earlier. Murphy told Hodgson that the people’s wishes had to be recognized.
“It’s not a dead issue at Standing Rock,” Hodgson said. “The chairman is meeting with the judicial committee next week to discuss the 1,000 signatures. The Board of Higher Education knew that. It’s an absolute abomination. It’s a slap in the face and a kick in the ass to the people of Standing Rock.
“It has been a very small group of people creating barriers and log jams. You’ve got more than 50 percent of the people who voted in the last general election saying that they want to vote on the issue. Why is nobody listening to them?”
Hodgson said arena board members had similar feelings.
“The constituents in this are the students at UND, alumni, citizens of the state, community members in Grand Forks and most importantly, the tribal members of the two Sioux tribes,” Hodgson said. “All favor continuation of the name and logo.
“It’s a sad day. I actually believed that the people involved would do the right thing at the end of the day. I thought they could see through the tactics being used by the people who opposed the name and logo. I guess I gave them more credit than I should have.”
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