Schneider resigns from "Standing Committee on Native Americans" in protest

Date: May 24, 2001

To: President Kupchella [University of North Dakota] Members of the President's Standing Committee on Native Americans

From: Mary Jane Schneider [Chair of UND Indian Studies Department & Distinguished Professor]

Re: My resignation from the committee

I recently learned that the Brien logo has been painted on the basket ball court at Hyslop Sports Center. The hypocrisy of claiming to build a premier institution for Native Americans while putting a representation of a Native American in a position to be trampled on is more than I can support. Therefore, I am resigning from the President's Standing Committee on Native Americans.

Because Americans recognize that putting an image on a floor indicates disrespect, we do not usually put representations of real people or objects with important symbolic content on floors. When an artist put an American flag on the floor in an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Congress was moved to pass legislation to prevent such disrespectful uses of the flag. That American Indians can be put on a floor underscores the idea that Native Americans are not real and not important.

In addition to the problem of the message, I am also concerned that eagle feathers are represented in the image. The eagle is considered a sacred bird by many Native Americans and its feathers should not be allowed to touch the ground. If an eagle feather falls to the ground at a powwow, the powwow stops so a ceremony can be held to pick up the feather. Putting an image with eagle feathers on the floor indicates a complete lack of sensitivity to Native American students and faculty on this campus and in the region. Why not put a crucifix there?

Until the Board of Higher Education, President Kupchella and other administrators recognize that human beings are not logos to be walked on or used in other disrespectful ways, the situation for Native Americans at UND will not change.