From the National Post:

Opulent rink fuels controversy Campus racism charges: Keeping name earns Fighting Sioux a $100M home

GRAND FORKS, N.D. - When the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux train for a hockey game at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, they lift weights in a room said to be larger and better equipped than the facilities of any pro team in North America. Sioux fans buy Sioux-per hotdogs and beer over granite countertops Imported from Italy and India. Every floor in the public areas of the arena - Including the rest rooms -- is covered with the imported stone. Nearly five kilometres of brass trim add a stylish touch to the floor. The fans settle into 11,500 plush seats, each with faux-leather cushions and cherrywood armrests. As they wait for the action, a 10-metre-long 1926 Mortier organ from Belgium blasts Wagner and Tchaikovsky. "The Ralph," as it is known, opened last month and it also includes a three-metre Indian head logo embedded into the imported granite floor. The over-the-top opulence of the arena in this Prairie city of 49,000 people has academics and natives here wondering if a super-rich alumnus, once accused of admiring Nazism, has obtained the university's soul in return for an extravagant hockey rink.

The patron, Ralph Engelstad, has used his money and influence to end a movement to change the university's nickname, the Fighting Sioux. The debate has been raging for years on the campus and it has resulted in a series of ugly incidents. Mr. Engelstad's involvement in the arena has added more controversy. Mr. Engelstad, 70, paid US$100 million to build the arena for a college team that plays 17 home games a year. University officials say it's one of the largest gifts any university has ever received. According to Forbes magazine, Mr. Engelstad, a Las Vegas casino and real estate magnate, is worth more than US$400 million. The University of North Dakota alumnus and former backup goaltender first rose to national prominence in the 1980s when he threw parties honouring Adolf Hitler at his Las Vegas casino, the Imperial Palace. The casino printed bumper stickers that said "Hitler was Right."
The opening of the arena in October was greeted by 350 protesters. Campus natives, a few other students and many professors object to the portrayal of natives, ranging from stereotypical to obscene. Several tribes have also asked the university to change the nickname. The protest re-ignited a controversy that first surfaced in 1972 when a fraternity created an ice sculpture of a naked native woman, lying suggestively with her legs spread. A native man who happened upon the display was thrown in jail after he pummeled three frat boys. In recent years, obscene T-shirts depicting natives have surfaced at sporting events. Last year the university was on the verge of changing the nickname and logo. But Mr. Engelstad threatened to withdraw his donation. The school's board voted 8-0 to leave the Sioux name intact.
Earl Strinden, head of the alumni association and a long-time friend of Mr. Engelstad, said a small "politically correct crowd" is trying to stir controversy while most appreciate the gift. He pointed to surveys which show 75% of students want to keep the Sioux name. (An equal percentage of native students want the name changed.) He blamed the more disgusting displays on a few isolated, ignorant students. "You bring around bad behaviour with understanding and respect. I've seen a real lessening of that kind of thing every year," said Mr. Strinden. "When you think about the Sioux, they were known for courage, for winning battles, for honour, for persistence. so when that name was chosen, it was chosen to recognize a proud and rich heritage."

But even when the logo is used respectfully, many object. "It's still a stereotype. They don't honour Sioux, or natives. They're honouring Tonto from the Lone Ranger," said Frank Sage, 32, a therapy graduate who is a Navajo from New Mexico. The campaign to change the team name has exposed fissures. Several students have received hate mail, while posters have surfaced calling natives "Prairie niggers" and telling them to go to their reservations Federal civil rights investigators were on campus last week to determine if the university fosters a hostile atmosphere for natives. Last year Anjanette Parisien, a student of biology and native studies, came upon a group of students dressed as cowboys and Indians. One of the cowboys swore at her, thrust a fake handgun through her car window and pulled the trigger. "I couldn't believe it. I didn't know what they were doing. Racism is so blatant on this campus. You know, the part that bothers me is that nobody ever considered telling them to stop this, they basically told those guys it's OK to do this," she said.
Mr. Engelstad's past fuels the determination of the anti-name crusaders. In addition to Hitler birthday parties, Mr. Engelstad's casino also once held a secret shrine to the Nazis, according to a 1989 investigation by the Nevada Gaming Commission. The room had flags and cars that once belonged to Hitler as well as matching paintings of Mr. Engelstad and Hitler in uniform. A caption said: "To Ralph, from Adolf, 1938." The commission fined Mr. Engelstad US$1.5 million -- the second largest fine in the commission's history -- for tarnishing the state's reputation. A University of North Dakota delegation travelled to Nevada in 1989 to investigate the commission's report when Mr. Engelstad planned to make a US$5-million donation to refurbish the old hockey arena. The committee found more Nazi paraphernalia, including a Second World War propaganda poster depicting children in boxcars with a caption in German beneath: "Summer Holidays." However, the committee decided Mr. Engelstad had no Nazi sympathies and only showed "bad taste." The school then accepted the US$5-million donation.

Mr. Engelstad, a recluse who does not do interviews, has issued statements saying that the Nazi parties were a joke and that he despises everything about Hitler. Mr. Strinden resents the link to Mr. Engelstad's past: "No question he's been unfairly portrayed. I've known this man for 40 years, he's an absolute workaholic, he's highly successful because of his strength of character."At the entrance of the new arena a bronze statue of Mr. Engelstad looms over the giant granite Indian head. Many of about 500 Indian heads in the arena are cast in stone, galling activists who know any future alteration will require jackhammers. A statue of a mounted Sitting Bull stands outside.

The arena was originally budgeted for US$50 million, with the balance of the US$100 million donation slated for other projects. As the name controversy raged, Mr. Engelstad added the most extravagant touches, doubling the arena's price. Those extras included a $2-million U.S. scoreboard and a 24-person jacuzzi for the players. Mr. Engelstad is "a spoiled brat," says Merry Ketterling, a Sioux elder and longtime employee in the Indian studies department. "It's a game for him and he knows how to play these games."