Spirit Lake Tribal Hearing Moved From North Dakota To South Dakota Because UND Won’t Waive Parking Fees


According to the Grand Forks Herald, “The appeals court set to hear arguments over the disputed Spirit Lake tribal chairman’s seat says the UND School of Law has pulled out of hosting the hearing.” Apparently the hearing will now be held in Aberdeen, South Dakota.

The report blames “logistical problems” for the move, but that’s a little vague. According to a source on the UND campus, the problem was the universities refusal to provide free parking:

Heard […] that the hearing was moved because they could not figure out how to accommodate free parking for tribal members during the hearing – that is the logistical problem referenced. Peggy Lucke at UND insisted that the tribal members must pay for parking as there is no free guest parking at UND.  But of course the alumni office gets lots of free parking for recruitment of students, and other “special” guests do not pay.

So Tribal members need to go travel 3.5 to 4 hours to Aberdeen rather 1.5 hours to  Grand Forks because of Twamley [Hall] bureaucrats.  Embarrassing.

Twamley Hall is the main administrative building at UND.

If a refusal to waive parking fees for the event is the reason why the Spirit Lake folks have to travel more than twice as far for the hearing, it is indeed embarrassing and petty. Of course, UND and Spirit Lake haven’t been on the best of terms since the university basically threw the tribe under the bus on the Fighting Sioux nickname issue.  The Sioux tribe argued that the nickname wasn’t offensive to them. The campus elite, thinking they knew better, was dismissive of the tribe.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • OldConserv2011

    Even though I’m no fan of the bureaucratic zoo that is our higher education system, I have to say that I’m a bit ambiguous on this one. On the one hand, yes UND could maybe make some concessions and waive the parking fees. That’s an easy thing to do that doesn’t really cost them anything on the grand scale of things.
    But on the other hand, the tribe is showing just as much nonsensical bureaucracy. They’re willing to spend the extra expense of driving their people all the way to Aberdeen, at least twice the distance, than to pay some relatively minor parking fees.
    UND is displaying its self acknowledged sovereignty over all things. The tribe is displaying its utter disregard for the value of a taxpayer funded dollar.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      I don’t think it’s a matter of paying the parking fee. I think it’s a matter of there not being enough non-permit parking to accommodate the tribe at the law school, and the school won’t waive the permit requirement.

      • abc

        While I understand your point, the parking lots are full they way it is, so you’d be putting out those who actually do pay to park in those lots. And my guess is other groups don’t get special treatment like Spirit Lake is asking for. Almost sounds more like a convenient excuse for a change of venue than anything, though that could just be coincidental. But Aberdeen is the closest place that is available and accomodate their parking requests? Seems odd.

        • devilschild

          True…my husband’s company rented classroom space on the campus and they all had to buy parking permits to attend. So why is the tribe so special? I’m curious…..Are they paying to use space at the law school?

  • abc

    Just curious if/why you think UND should waive the parking fee? Do similar events get their parking fees waived? There is limited parking on the UND campus to begin with, particularly near the law school. The lots near there are for permit parking or hourly parking. Why should UND students and faculty that use those lots should be put out because an outside group doesn’t think they should have to pay for parking like everyone else? Can’t really fault UND for this one.

    • Eric

      UND should not have any parking fees. We pay dearly as taxpayers to allow that school and the other 10 constitutionally protected schools to exist. We have already paid for the parking. The legislature should ban parking fees all together……(oops that might be stepping on the imperial Higher Ed board……)

      • abc

        Not sure what that has to do with Spirit Lake not wanting to pay for parking? Also, is parking a free for all at the state capitol? Just park where you want? I mean, the taxpayers pay dearly for that as well.

        • Eric

          glad you agree. Use the parking you already paid for, not free parking….haha

    • ND Observer

      Public accommodation is vital for all public places. That is why there is free guest parking at the State Capitol, in front of courthouses, etc. etc. Students and employees can expect to pay for parking for their daily use, but why should visitors and guests? Clearly there is free parking by the Alumni Center because they value guest. Guests for a legal hearing should have the same courtesy

  • Roy_Bean

    And why couldn’t this hearing be held in Devils Lake? What does Aberdeen have that makes it the next best place after Grand Forks? There’s some logic here that I’m completely missing.

  • borborygmi45

    Yah Spending a lot more in time and gas makes more sense…

  • Captjohn

    Not a place to meet in Valley City, Jamestown, Fargo, Bismarck? Hard to believe? I think there is more to the story. Either no one wants to host the meeting or the elders want to remove it as far as practicable from the reservation. Something smells.

  • JoeMN

    I only have one question.

    Why hasn’t anyone accused UND of racism ?

  • http://ndgoon.blogspot.com Goon

    That’s funny, but it doesn’t surprise me. When I went to UND the Parking Nazi’s were out of control.

  • Ratbite

    Do not tread on King Robert I’s kingdom. Maybe they thought the tribal members were NDSU grads.

  • Tim Heise

    There is more to this story.

    • Tim Heise

      or must be I should say.

  • Tim Heise

    A couple of thoughts: I THINK that this appeals court is not a Spirit Lake entity but a intertribal appeals court meaning a bunch of tribal court systems created an joint appellate system. I do not think this is a Spirit Lake decision. I could be wrong.
    Also every year UND Law hosts a tribal court hearing of sorts. I like watching them. It is a great educational opportunity.

  • DelawareBeachHouse

    May I suggest reading up on the history of parking meters in North Dakota? As just a start, they were once banned by the voters. http://trid.trb.org/view.aspx?id=687949
    But IIRC, the universities found a way to dodge the ban.
    Anyway, what’s wrong with using Devils Lake-UND, or whatever name it suffers under these days?

  • ec99

    UND still owes up the whazoo for the $18 million parking ramp. Permits have gone up 400% in the last 6 years. No one parks for free.

    • ND Observer

      That is so true. A 30 year bond was taken out wi0th annual payments of about $1 M in 2007 to pay for this monstrosity. Immediately annual parking permits nearly doubled from $120 to $225 per year even if you never parked in the ramp to pay off this white elephant. So of course 500-600 park in the ramp and 16,000 others pay for it. Of course earlier the UND administrators promised that only users of the parking ramp would pay.

      The state audit in fees at UND and NDSU in 2012 showed all sorts of irregularities and misspending. The auditors found UND charged students 160 different fees on top of tuition, fleecing them like an ATM machine. Thankfully the Board said not more of those kind of devious ways to get more funding.

      • ec99

        Notice that across Columbia is a tower with a bridge to the current structure. That is because UND plans a twin ramp in that lot. That will likely price out at twice the first ramp, sending permits into the stratosphere. Meanwhile the indoor practice facility underway will go for about $30 million. All the while UND spirals up tuition because it’s “cash strapped.”

        • abc

          Fair point and mostly true, but the IPF will be paid for with private donations.

          • ec99

            That’s the line for public consumption. They suspended it once due to lack of contributions. Also, UND is stuck paying for upkeep, which probably means higher tuition and fees.

  • fredlave

    Spirit Lake supported the Fighting Sioux nickname. Doesn’t UND owe them something for that? Or, use the Spirit Lake Casino at St. Michael. It’s in their backyard, has plenty of free parking and conference amenities. Plus, attendees could drop a few bucks in the slots.

  • devilschild

    There are five casinos in or near Aberdeen. This is a road trip paid for with taxpayer dollars.

  • SLn8v

    Wow I can’t believe how some of you can really take this to another level that quick. I’m a Spirit Lake enrolled member, NEVER have I asked for a handout! I will gladly pay for my own parking as well as others if that’s the case. I truly believe someone jumped the gun and grouped the tribe as a whole as wanting FREE parking. I’d like to know who Mr. Port received his information from. BESIDES, this is about an appeals hearing on a former chairman….didn’t know Spirit Lake was on trial for a parking issue. Before making accusations and saying such nonsense, it wouldn’t hurt to just ask an enrolled member.

    • Thresherman

      I’m pretty sure people were referring to the tribal entity involved and not individual tribal members.

  • awfulorv

    I am rather surprised, the way these things work, that the confab isn’t being held in Williston. That’d really f***k things up…