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Plans for ‘Minnesota Tribal Nations Plaza’ unveiled

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MINNEAPOLIS – The University of Minnesota unveiled the design of a new plaza to honor Minnesota’s American Indian nations Sept. 16.

Made possible through a $12 million gift from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, the new plaza will be named “Minnesota Tribal Nations Plaza.” In addition to $10 million announced last October, the SMSC has pledged an additional $2 million for improvements to the plaza. The university’s Board of Regents approved the name at its meeting on Sept. 12.

“We’re grateful to the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community for their support, and for their commitment to recognizing all 11 of Minnesota’s American Indian communities in this stunning plaza,” said Athletics Director Joel Maturi. “This will be one of the most vibrant and visible parts of TCF Bank Stadium and serve as a lasting tribute to the importance of Minnesota’s Indian people.”

Minnesota Tribal Nations Plaza will encompass the largest and most central west entrance of TCF Bank Stadium. The architecturally innovative design will include 11 18-foot-tall sky markers. Each sky marker will incorporate information about one of the state’s 11 tribal nations. Tribal flags, images and important facts will be displayed on the soaring glass structures.

“We are grateful that the membership of our tribe has made it a priority to tell the story of American Indians in Minnesota through this plaza,” said SMSC Chairman Stanley Crooks. “Our true story hasn’t always been told or taught in schools, so we acknowledge the university for its willingness to do so. It is important to put accurate information out in the world so that others might better appreciate the historic and ongoing contributions made to the state of Minnesota by the sovereign tribal nations who have called Minnesota home since time immemorial.”

The $10 million gift for the plaza is the largest single private gift ever to Golden Gopher Athletics. In addition, the SMSC also donated $2.5 million that will go to a matching fund that will create a $5 million endowment to provide scholarships, with a preference given to American Indian students.

With the additional $2 million pledge, the SMSC contribution to the University of Minnesota reaches $14.5 million in the past 12 months.

Final commissioning of TCF Bank Stadium will occur in summer 2009, and the first game – against the U.S. Air Force Academy – will be held Sept. 12, 2009.