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UND NICKNAME: No consensus at Standing Rock

Tribal members have mixed views about Sioux moniker

BISMARCK -- Enrolled members of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation tribe have heard the recent calls for UND to shed the name "Fighting Sioux" from its sports teams.

But there is no consensus on the reservation about whether the moniker should be dropped, and there is no organized effort to call for a new name.

At Standing Rock, members themselves are moving away from the word "Sioux," a French word that means "snake" or "adder."

"We are the Lakota," said Thomas Bullhead, who teaches the Lakota language at Standing Rock High School. "That word means to be at one with everything. We address ourselves as the Lakota, if they could understand that at UND."

Renewed controversy surrounding the name was sparked by a new logo, which since has been put on hold. It depicts a Sioux warrior with feathers and a hint of war paint.

Brigitte Silk, a junior, likes both the new logo and the use of the Sioux name by UND.

"The new logo is pretty nice. It doesn't really bug me," she said. "I think it's kind of cool."

But Jesse Taken Alive, a Standing Rock tribal council member, disagrees.

"Some of my best friends are white people, but that doesn't justify using a whole race of people as a mascot," he said.

Supporters of the name say its use is meant as a way of honoring the Sioux culture. But opponents contend it still gets used in disrespectful ways, such as when opposing teams chant "Sioux suck" at athletic events.

"The name doesn't really bother me, if the disrespect doesn't follow, but I don't think the prejudice will stop," said Mary Alice Brown Otter, who graduated from UND in 1970 and is a new board member for the Sitting Bull Community College.

Source: Grand Forks Herald & Associated Press, December 7, 1999