To the editor,
As an international human rights organization, KOLA must express its grave concern and outrage about the use of UND's Sioux mascot. This mascot cannot be accepted socially, culturally, nor politically for it is demeaning and racist. The mascot is a grave insult to American Indian integrity, beliefs and ways of life.

The First Nation people of the Americas have been suffering from the European and Euro-American arrogance and exploitation for 506 years now. They have been exploited, abused, and humiliated in the name of God, gold, land, coal, uranium ore, and today also for the misplaced humore and pleasure of sports teams and universities.

American Indian people are a proud and strong people who deserve the same respect as all other races. Would UND agree to use a Jewish survivor of the concentration camps as a mascot? Or a Tibetan lama (monk)? Or a Croation woman who was raped during the war that splintered Yugoslavia? Thewse are all equal examples of brave and proud people, human beings, who were/are the victims or racist practices and genocide. The use of such mascots wouldn't hbe really racially insulting or derogatory, now would they? Altogether a barrel of laughs by what the UND says are local standards concerning American Indians. Truth is, the use of this Sioux mascot as a university mascot/emblem is offensive, demeaning, racially insulting and derogatory. By not changing the mascot, UND will simply add up to the lexicon of the white man's misplaced feelings of superiority and his subtle racism.

We are asking UND to have the moral backbone to take a socially, culturally and politically correct stand on this issue; to take it into the appropirate hands, and CHANGE the mascot. After all, universitiy are supposed to be "educating", aren't they?

Elsie Herten
Executive Director
KOLA International Campaign Office
Brussels, Belgium

To the editor,
I was saddened to learn that in the land of my mother's peop[le I am no more than a mascot. My wife and I have raised our children to accept each person as an individual without regard to their race, religion, etc.

Now they are teaching our grandchildren the same. My wife and I are Native American and White and proud of both races.

In the '60s and '70s, college was where many learned that we were all equal. We upheld the civil rights movement. I guess this did not include the Indians. Sure fooled me.

Please take another look at your mascot. When I was in the service I was proud to be a Fighting Sioux but then I was a true warrior. Today I am still much more than just a sports mascot. Please consider changing your mascot to something that is not offensive to a whole race of people.

Peter Rampton
Bakersfield, Calif.

To the editor,
The power of free speech is that people can communicate what is truly on their minds and in their hearts-- is racism really what the University of North Dakota wants to communicate?

Ending the racist mascot would respect free speech because the people who decide to end it would have something else communicate-- their respect for real, living Native American people. Why is the student government president defending racism?

Chris Vance,
Dorchester, Mass.

To the editor,
Whether you change your mascot is really your business, but please do not make the decision without listening to th epeople that are most deeply affected. Changing a mascot is hard: it represents tradition, serves as a common bond between the alumni and the current study body, and becomes an icon for the etnire community. It invariably represents positive qualities in the minds of those who use it, and those qualities are fun to invoke at athletic events.

As hard as changing a mascot is, it is harder to tell an Indian child that the mockery they witness at a game is meaningless. The demeaning message that Indian people are wild savages, and that wearing of eagle feathers and dancing is somehow cute or amusing, gets internalized and leads to a sense of shame. If your mascot is seldom depicted as a scholar, or a parent, or other roles that Indian people hold and that Indian children need to see, you leave that child with a shallow and hurtful image of himself.

The damage to a child's self-esteem far outweighs the benefit associated with any particular mascot.

Erik Phelps
American Indian Nursing Program
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

To the editor,
I am writing in support of David P. Rider, Harold Iron Shield, and all of the other people that wrote to you in the Feb. 19, issue of the Dakota Student. I support the changing of the Sioux name, despite the Sioux tribes willingness to allow UND to continue the use of the current name and symbol. The fact that unlike the Atlanta Braves fans who made famous the Tomahawk Chop, UND students take pride in the name Sioux has nothing to do with this argument. I also would like to use this forum to ask your readers for their support in getting Minnesota's NFL team to change its name to something less offensive to someone, like myself, who happen to be of Scaninavian decent. I think everyone who opposes the Sioux name has to agree that all racial nicknames are wrong, we should also oppose Notre Dame's use of the Fighting Irish moniker.

Josh Hensch
Undecded Major

To the editor,
I am pleased to hear that the use and promotion of the Sioux people as the "Fighting Sioux" mascot is bheing addressed at the University of North Dakota. Universities have no business singling out an ethnic group to be used as a mascot to promotoe their sports image or the image of their university. This usurping of Native American images, symbols, and names to be used by the dominant culture in the guise of honoring Native Americans continues to be insulting as well as an indicator of ingorance that these institutions of learnign have regarding Native American cultures.

The National Congress of American Indians our oldest and most prestigious Native American organization has issued numerous policy statements condemning the use of Native Americans as mascots. The American Psychological Association is currently addressing this issue as well.

Dennis W. Tibbetts, Ph.D.
(White Earth Ojibwe and Wind River Shoshone)
Director, Center for Native American Studies
and Associate Professor of Education
Northern Michigan University

To the editor,
As a Sahnish-Hidatsa First Nations and Alumnus of the University of North Dakota (1979), I fully support the efforts by First Nations students at UND to eliminate the name "Fighting Sioux". I use the term First Nations instead of Indian, American Indian, or Native American because I consider the latter names to be counterfeit, colonized identities (Yellow Bird, 1999).

Without question, the name, "The Fighting Sioux," is a very derogatory and stereotypical label and is clearly the product of European American linguistic colonialism and racism. It is a very oppressive and condescending name for Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota Peoples because it focuses only on conflict and provides no context for the conflict or fighting. Used alone, and only in reference to UND's school name, the label "The Fighting Sioux" has absolutely no redeeming social or cultural value that could make it a name to be proud of. Indeed, terms that are synonymous with "fighting" are belligerent, combative, antagonistic, and destructive.

As First Nations, we continue to search for more empowering and accurate labels for ourselves and communities. As we decolonize from the shackles of mainstream American "Banking approach" education (Freire, 1973), I believe you will see our communities continue to reject oppressive and racist labels, histories, and thinking. Such rejection is an important part of our intellectual and cultural liberation and renaissance (Adams, 1995). The rest of the world has rejected colonialism policies towards First Nations (Indigenous) Peoples (Porter, 1998). I think it is time that the University of North Dakota do the same.

Michael James Yellow Bird, Ph.D. (UND, '79)
Asst. Professor and Director of the Office for the Study of Indigenous Social and Cultural Justice,
School of Social Welfare
University of Kansas

To the editor,
I am writing to show my support to the American Indian students at the University of North Dakota.

As an American Indian student I battle everyday with stereotypes that are constantly thrown into our society by things such as mascot representations. If students at UND feel that this mascot is an unfair representation of American Indian people then I believe they should be heard and something should be done about it. I ask the UND student government to openly hear the argument that these students have. Listen, not with bias ears, but with understanding and compromise. I ask that your student government take the time to see this problem for what it reall is: A fight for a fair and realistic view of American Indian people.

I admire the American Indian students, and others, at UND that are stepping up to fight for something that all people of all colors should: heritage, culture, and pride.

Royale Da'
Journalism Student
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

To the editor,
Please respect the feelings of Native students who go to this Unviersity. They find it offensive that you are using the "Fighting Sioux" mascot. I fell this is insensitve and makes your univeristy look foolish, not good.

Dora Coen