North Dakota Students' "Siouxper Drunk" T-Shirts Deemed Offensive
A T-shirt design by University of North Dakota students featuring the retired "Fighting Sioux" mascot drinking from a beer bong has been condemned as being racist by the school's American Indian Student Services.
Despite the NCAA, the University of North Dakota administration, and the entire state of North Dakota calling the Fighting Sioux mascot "hostile and abusive" back in 2005, a group of North Dakota students decided to take it back, only with an alcoholic twist.
In celebration of the non-school sponsored Springfest, a group of UND students thought it would be a fun idea to wear T-shirts emblazoned with the phrase "Siouxper Drunk" over a picture of the old Fighting Sioux mascot drinking from a beer bong. Of course, this garnered complaints from Indian Student Services, with one student calling the shirts "degrading and demeaning."
"Until there is a statement, until there is action, true action, to say that this is wrong, hurtful and it shouldn't be continued, it's going to just keep going on and on and on," said American Indian Student Services Director Leigh Jeanotte.
The blog Last Real Indians explained how the shirt was offensive on multiple levels. Besides featuring the stereotypical "Indian head" that got the mascot retired in the first place, the shirts also played into the "drunken Indian" stereotype - a quite real and serious issue, since one in 10 Native American deaths are alcohol-related.
This isn't a case of simple ignorance either, as some students knew - and even welcomed - the attention the shirts would draw.
"Our springfest shirts will make the news I just know it lol," a now-removed Tweet from one of the students read.
The students got exactly what they wanted, with university president Robert Kelley going on record to condemn their actions, saying in a statement that they displayed "an unacceptable lack of sensitivity and a complete lack of respect for American Indians and all members of the community.". No word yet on whether or not the administration will take official action.