UND's last instituted vestige of disrespect

To the editor,

Being that the University of North Dakota's "Fighting Sioux" nickname and symbol are a few of the last instituted vestiges of disrespect shown to the state's native populace, I hail all concerted efforts to recognize North Cakota's significant and growing American Indian presence as being more than just historical and an attraction for tourists. UND Student Senate's courageous but undermined vote and the initiative of state Representative Rod Froelich (D-Selfridge) to introduce a legislative resolution ca lling for an end to UND's distasteful use of the "Sioux" name serve as exemplary notions to better the racial and ethnic relations in North Dakota.

As a UND student and namely a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of North and South Dakota, I have always been perplexed by the notion of the University to "honor" my people and me with the athletic moniker "Fighting Sioux". When I decided to attend UND four years ago, I was hesitant to enroll because I was aware of the presence of the nickname and symbol and figured that I had had my fair share of contending with racism and negative American Indian stereotypes. But, I seemed to have taken comfort in the pretty words of "honor" and "respect" espoused by the University to legitimize its use of the name. After my first week on campus however, I had come to realize that I had fallen victim to false advertising. In addition to pursuinf academic goals I h ave been in an active crusage with fellow Native students to educate the campus and greater community about the effects of the presence of the nickname and logo and about the plight in general of the American Indian. These tiring efforts have had a tremen dously positive impact. Last year UND Student Senate would not even consider taking a stance with regard to the nickname issue. This year, the UND Army ROTC Battalion will cease its use of the "Fighting Sioux" moniker and hundreds of students have stated they wish to see a change of the nickname.

Certainly the idea to nix the athletic nickname would have been an unscrupulous decision by a new and "outsider" President, but as we enter a new millenium the notion of the "Fighting Sioux" remains at the same level of thinking as "the only good Indian i s dead Indian", only placated by the words honor and respect. Such a signature of dishonor, disrespect, and insenesitivity should not continue to serve as a part of the University's tradition.

Until the nickname is dropped, one can only expect to witness continued and intensified efforts to drop the nickname and symbol at UND made by a new generation of culturally and spiritually enpowered American Indian young people who are in search of that much-hailed spirit of North Dakota.

Ira Taken Alive
Student, University of North Dakota
Grand Forks