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Pride, resentment, bitterness: Every sentiment arises, from compassion to racism, in the Internet discussion groups grappling with UND's Fighting Sioux logo.

Pride, resentment, bitterness: Every sentiment arises, from compassion to racism, in the Internet discussion groups grappling with UND's Fighting Sioux logo.

All of that and resignation, too.

"These comments are a sad testimony to the undercurrent of racism and hostility that exists at UND," wrote Sheila B. of Grand Forks after a blizzard of postings Wednesday at www.grandforksherald.com .

That discussion, more than 250 postings by Wednesday evening, grew from news reports of a forum organized at UND on Tuesday by the Campus Committee for Human Rights, which opposes continued use of the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo.

In a legal settlement with the NCAA, which had alleged that UND's use of the nickname and logo creates a hostile, abusive environment for Native American students, the university agreed to discontinue the name if it could not win tribal support within three years. The NCAA rescinded its "hostile" and "abusive" allegations.


At the UND Indian Center on Tuesday, members of the Standing Rock Tribal Council said their opposition to use of the logo will not change.

That drew an angry response from Don S., from Mahnomen, Minn. (People who post on grandforksherald.com must provide an e-mail address but are not required to sign with a full name.)

"Let the so-called self-appointed spokespeople for the Sioux tribes hide on their reservations," he wrote. "Let's take away the slimy name and then abolish Indian studies, Indian Center, Indian scholarships."

Seven minutes later, Maria K. from Grand Forks posted a response: "All you have to do is read this message board to figure out exactly why the name has to change. Move on. You lost."

Many of the posters want to move on, regardless of where they stand or stood on the logo issue.

"The decision has been made," wrote Sheila B. of Grand Forks. "The Sioux tribes will not give their support to the nickname. Move forward with some class, dignity and respect for each other."

From Detroit Lakes, Minn., Curt A. also counseled moving on. "I am willing to accept a new nickname," he wrote. "The timing is right as UND moves to Division I. . . . Unfortunately, the Sioux Nation will lose what I believe is a symbol of pride."

And from Gerald L. in Helena, Mont.: "I have thought this was worth the effort. I am changing my view and thinking, 'Let's move on.'


"It is too bad this is happening from both sides of the issue. I think we are all better than that. Dragging this on for three years will not help at all. I urge the university to move on and get this negative story behind them."

From both sides

Mike McNamara, host of Mac Talk on KNOX Radio, has wrestled with the logo controversy on the air.

"You see the ignorance from both sides," he said. "It's always been there. It's what you hear in bars and in conversation, and now because of the Internet forums it's more on display."

Speaking before news of a possible logo vote next week by the State Board of Higher Education, McNamara said the board "offered no framework (after the October NCAA settlement) for the dialogue or for the course ahead.

"In the absence of adults standing up and being leaders, it's fairly predictable what you're going to have from extremes."

UND President Charles Kupchella said he doesn't read the Internet comment lines, "but I'm not surprised there's a range of opinion. That certainly matches my experience."

Kupchella acknowledged that UND and the tribes "haven't had a real sit-down dialogue yet," and that "much of what passes for that is 'playing to the crowd.' I've seen that on both sides, from the beginning."


A more substantive discussion requires groundwork, he said Wednesday. "We have a (three-year) window here to work within, and we're having discussions on how we approach that."

The disagreement is not a matter of Indians vs. non-Indians, he added, as both sides in the logo dispute claim Indian and non-Indian support.

A good share of the Internet argument has a sharp us-vs.-them aspect, however.

"Ever hire a Native American?" Carol B. of Brooks, Minn., asked in a posting Wednesday. "There is no work ethic, poor performance, late or never show up or even call and constantly blame others for their problems. If everyone, regardless of race, creed or color, could be provided free housing, government check each month, free education, and assistants (sic) programs to cover every other need, would we not all be happy?

"UND should drop the Sioux nickname . . . and then drop every program associated with the Native American from the campus. Let them study their heritage at home."

Logo defenders occasionally urge respect for all involved. "The anonymity of this room should not entitle people to act rudely to each other," wrote Chris C.

But Dana K., a UND alum writing from Cando, N.D., said that he had come around to see the Sioux logo as disrespectful to the university. "UND needs to have a logo to be proud of. When is the last time you stepped foot in Fort Totten or Cannonball and seen how they live?"

From Fertile, Minn., Brad C. urged empathy: "All people need to know is what our grandmothers said to us: Treat people how we want to be treated ourselves!!"


But Dan K., writing from St. Paul, joined several other posters in advocating a boycott of Indian casinos "to truly show support for the heritage and history of the University of North Dakota." Troy R. wrote from Neche, N.D.: "Let's forget about the nickname and forget about the Sioux. Let's respect them by forgetting them, as they wish."

"Wow," wrote Steven B. from Clementon, N.J., "so much hatred for Native Americans here."

Source of division

Karl Limvere, moderator of the Northern Plains Conference of the United Church of Christ, said the discussion has exposed "a source of division" in North Dakota. The UCC conference has petitioned state and university authorities to change the nickname.

"If there is any doubt that we still live in a time of deep prejudices and outright racism, all we have to do is to read the responses on Web pages to this and other issues involving Native Americans," Limvere said. "It isn't pretty, and it doesn't speak well of North Dakota. Anger and hate is toxic to not only our spirits, but also to our economy and to our future."

Lucy Ganje, a member of the Campus Committee for Human Rights, said the more vitriolic blog entries, message boards and Internet forums "show that, of course, there's racism in Grand Forks, and ignorance." There may be value in the exposure of such sentiments, she said, but they still are painful.

"I think the community suffers the community broadly, and more directly the American Indian community," she said. Web forums that don't require full disclosure by people who post, such as the Herald's, "are culpable in this."

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