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Chuck Haga, Grand Forks Herald, Published November 06 2011

Spirit Lake: UND not responding to records request

BISMARCK – On the eve of the Legislature’s return to the Fighting Sioux nickname debate, the Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe has accused the University of North Dakota of failing to respond to its requests for email records concerning the issue.

The pro-nickname Committee for Understanding and Respect, acting under authority granted by the Tribal Council, said Sunday that it has asked Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem to rule on whether UND officials violated state open records laws by failing to respond to the committee’s requests.

The requests for email communications regarding the nickname between UND, the state Board of Higher Education, the NCAA and the Big Sky Conference were made Oct. 10, according to Frank Black Cloud, committee spokesman.

Black Cloud said the only response the committee has received from UND was an acknowledgment that the request had been received.

Peter Johnson, executive associate vice president for university relations, said the university did provide the committee Sunday with an estimate of costs related to the retrieval of the requested emails: about $5,000 in all.

“It’s rather an extensive request – literally thousands of emails” from many accounts at several different systems, Johnson said.

He said university officials “have been following through with due diligence” on the committee’s requests, and he estimated that more than 100 hours of staff time had gone toward retrieval of the correspondence.