Letter from UND History Department

Dear Members of the State Board of Higher Education and President Kupchella:

The History Department at the University of North Dakota commmends your efforts in promoting racial and cultural diversity at UND. We note, for example, the hiring of faculty whose scholarship and teaching focus on non-Western peoples or minorities in the U.S. Still, we believe additional measures can be taken toward insuring that our campus is--as the Code of Student Life describes it--"an environment that emphasizes respect for diversity." Specifically, we urge you to retire the "Fighting Sioux" nickname and Indian head logo.

The nickname and logo adversely affect our teaching and research in at least four ways. First, they undermine our pedagogical effectiveness by promoting stereotypes and misconceptions about Native Americans. Second, they discourage intellectual inquiry, for the emotional attachment that many of our students have for the nickname and logo stifle the desire to learn anything beyond romanticized and largely false images of the Sioux people. Third, the nickname and logo foster divisiveness, both within and outside the classroom. Finally, they threaten our ability to do research with and among Native Americans, as well as impair our efforts to recruit Indian peoples.

There was a time when stereotypical characterizations were commonplace and unquestioned. That time has passed. Stanford, St. John's, Dartmouth, and many universities have done away with their Native American mascots. We must be the next. Even more importantly, all but one of the Sioux tribal governments has requested that UND stop using their people as a nickname and their likeness as a logo. This institution has made significant strides in the areas of cultural and racial diversity and understanding. The History Department entreats you to continue these laudable efforts and retire the nickname and logo immediately.

University of North Dakota
Department of History