Letter from the American Psychological Association (APA)

March 6, 2001

Dr. Charles E. Kupchella
University of North Dakota
PO Box 8193
Grand Forks, ND 58202

Dear Dr. Kupchella:

It has recently been brought to my attention that there are serious concerns among students and faculty at the University of North Dakota about the continuing designation of "Fighting Sioux" as the school's mascot. Thus, I am writing to you, on behalf of the 155,000 members and affiliates of the American Psychological Association, urging you to use your office to address these matters which are of great concern to all persons of goodwill, but particularly so to the university's Native American students and faculty. You are certainly aware that other universities, colleges and educational institutions have changed their mascot designation to entities that are not demeaning or offensive to any group.

As happens in situations where there is protracted inaction or social wounds are allowed to fester, it is our understanding that the mascot issue is becoming divisive within the University of North Dakota community. Students and faculty report intimidation, threats and, sometimes, personal attacks by those wishing to maintain the status quo. It appears from these reports that not only are Native Americans being targeted for abuse and hostility, but so are other persons of color and those who actively support them.

Certainly the reported level and intensity of these actions are such that many in the university community may consider themselves living in a hostile environment quite inconsistent with generally held social and educational goals.

As President of the American Psychological Association, I implore you to address the concerns of your Native American students, faculty and others that advocate change. Also, while not one of your constituents, I ask that you use the authority of your office to create a safe and protective community within which important issues may be raised without fear of harm to one's self and property.

Norine G. Johnson, PhD
APA President

cc. Governor John Hoeven