Fighting Mad Over the Fighting Sioux

from the Chronicle of Higher Education

The University of North Dakota unveiled a new sports logo last month for its "Fighting Sioux" teams, but not everyone is cheering. Designed by the noted American Indian artist Bennett Brien, the logo features an Indian whose cheeks are daubed with war paint and is wearing four feathers in his hair.

Some on the campus immediately decried the new logo as offensive, but it wasn't just the logo that bothered them. They didn't think much of the use of a Sioux Indian as the university's mascot. Last month, more than 60 people rallied on the campus, calling on the university to abandon the Sioux warrior as a symbol.

Administrators defended the logo, but announced that a proposal to put the logo on jerseys worn by the university's hockey team had been abandoned. "This new logo, which was designed by a Native American, happens to be a more classical style than past logos," said Charles E. Kupchella, the university's president. "But it is in no way offensive; it is very respectful."

The logo is not the only problem, said Holly A. Annis, assistant director of North Dakota's Native Media Center and a member of South Dakota's Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. "It doesn't matter how they change it," she said. "No native person should ever be used to represent any athletic team."

Mr. Kupchella said he would try to "create an open dialogue" with the critics. But he said, "Every one of our living alumni grew up in the tradition of the Fighting Sioux and can't understand why it should be changed."