Judge hearing 'Sioux' case was part of mascot group

The judge hearing the case over the University of North Dakota's "Fighting Sioux" nickname and logo was part of a student group that promoted Indian caricatures, The Fargo Forum reports.

As a student at UND in the 1960s, Judge Lawrence Jahnke belonged to the all-male Golden Feather pep club. The group created the controversial “Sammy the Sioux" mascot that depicted an Indian in a cartoonish fashion. The group also chose the "Indian maiden" outfits worn by UND cheerleaders.

"Sammy" was eliminated in the 1970s and the pep group eventually disbanded. The school, however, kept its "Sioux" association and came up with an Indian head logo that is the subject of litigation against the NCAA, which opposes the use of Indian mascots and imagery.

The Fargo Forum broke the news on the judge's involvement on Wednesday and said he would not comment for the story. Jahnke, however, spoke to the Grand Forks Herald later in the day and said his involvement in the group wouldn't affect his handling of the case.

In an editorial on Wednesday, the Forum criticized Jahnke for keeping records sealed in the case. In his ruling on the issue, Jahnke accused the media of fostering divisiveness over the logo and urged the media to focus on UND's programs that help Indian students.

'With all respect, his honor is talking oranges and apples," the paper said.

Get the Story:
Jahnke: Golden Feather membership not relevant (The Grand Forks Herald 10/25)
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Judge’s Sioux ties run deep (The Fargo Forum 10/24)
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Editorial: Judge errs in sealing Sioux files (The Fargo Forum 10/24)

Relevant Links:
University of North Dakota - http://www.und.edu
The Ralph - http://www.theralph.com
Fighting Sioux - http://www.fightingsioux.com

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Standing Rock chairman disputes UND on 'Sioux' (4/28)
Opinion: Native students at UND subject to racism (04/12)
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