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Sioux logo T-shirt stirs controversy

A T-shirt produced by a North Dakota business at tempting to poke fun at the UND Fighting Sioux logo con troversy has inflamed ten sions on an already sensitive issue.

A T-shirt produced by a North Dakota business at tempting to poke fun at the UND Fighting Sioux logo con troversy has inflamed ten sions on an already sensitive issue.

The shirt, which James town, N.D.-based Orriginals Inc. began printing about a week ago, includes the words: "No Sioux Logo No Sioux Ca sinos!" It also features UND's Indian head logo with the words: "Hostile and Abusive," and plots out the location of three casinos in North Dakota and South Dakota, which it describes as "Destructive and Addictive."

"This is not a sentiment we are promoting, fostering or supporting in any way, shape or form," said UND spokes man Peter Johnson. "We just don't think there is any place for this type of thing in the di alogue we would like to have. It is not what the University of North Dakota is about."

UND has agreed to discon tinue use of the Fighting Sioux name and its Indian logo within three years if it is unsuccessful in winning tribal support. The NCAA at one point alleged that UND's use of the nickname and logo cre ated a "hostile" and "abu sive" environment for Ameri can Indian students.

Johnson said Licensing Re source Group, UND's licens ing company, has prepared a letter asking Orriginals Inc. to stop using the trademarked UND logo.


"What we want is for them to cease and desist selling them," Johnson said. "If they use our image in any shape or form and are violating the rights we have in marketing our image, we will take any steps we need to protect our image."

Len Orr, the founder of Orriginals, who designed the shirt, said the school's logo has been blacked out, leaving only a silouette, in the T-shirts for sale on the company's Web site. The shirts, which are listed for sale for $14.95 each at www.orriginals.com , are not available in stores.

"If they tell me to stop us ing it, I will probably stop us ing it," Orr said. He said he might remove the logo and continue selling the shirt without the logo.

Orr, a UND hockey fan, who said he has received about a dozen Internet orders for the shirts, said they began as a joke. He designed the artwork for the shirts and printed one out for a friend about a week ago. Since then, more people have started asking about them, he said.

"They say the logo is abu sive and hostile," Orr said of nickname and logo oppo nents. "That's their side to that. But (American Indians) put their name all over a ca sino, which I think is addic tive and destructive. I just kind of thought that was ironic."

The production of the T- shirt along with passionate and sometimes racist remarks on Internet blogs and talk ra dio show the divisiveness of the issue, one that doesn't ap pear to be going away, at least until UND does or does not get tribal approval for the name in the next three years.

"It's certainly not going to help matters," Johnson said of UND's attempt to win tribal approval. "It might inflame things a little bit. It's certainly not going to be perceived by many as positive."

Lucy Ganje, a member of the Campus Committee for Human Rights at UND who opposes the use of the nick name and logo, called the shirt "derogatory."


"It's just one more example of issues that are going to have to be dealt with over and over again," she said. "This T- shirt is nothing new. The sen timent has been there."

Leigh Jeanotte, director of American Indian Student Services at UND, said racist T-shirts depicting American Indians crop up from time to time and described the shirt as "truly sad and very disre spectful."

"These types of actions are going to continue if we con tinue with this name," Jea notte said.

Orr said he understands the stance of nickname and logo opponents, but said he doesn't think UND's logo or nickname are offensive.

"I'm not out there saying one is right or one is wrong on one side," he said. "But I think casinos can be just as destructive as the use of the logo for sporting events. That's my opinion on it."

Nickname proponent Don Barcome Jr. said he believes the nickname and logo are re spectful to American Indians, but says the shirt is not likely to help the situation.

"I'm not impressed," he said. "I don't think that's right. The only way this is going to come to a final closure is if the tribes vote and have their say, and we have closure."

There are slightly more than 400 American Indian stu dents among UND's student population of about 12,500, and between 20 percent and 25 percent are Sioux, Jeanotte said.


"I think that we just need to listen to the tribes and for the sake of all our students, get this behind us," Ganje said.

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