Yellow Bird: 'Sioux' drives Indian students away

"There are few people who enjoy living with animosity, conflict and dissension day after day. So, I wasn't surprised to learn that the decline in enrollment at UND has included American Indian students.

The number of American Indian students at UND is down, although not by much, said Leigh Jeanotte, director of the American Indian Center at UND. But the numbers really should be increasing because UND's efforts to recruit American Indians are intense. The university has full-time recruiters as well as top-notch programs geared specifically for American Indians. Most of these programs, by the way, are federally funded.

I believe the decline in the number of Indian students is due in part to UND's nickname issue. So, I was a little concerned when a recent discussion among Grand Forks business leaders about UND's bigger problem of declining enrollment didn't mention the divisive nickname issue.

True, the decline in the number of American Indian students looks insignificant on the surface because the numbers aren't large. But why are the numbers shrinking at all, given the staff's strong recruiting efforts? Why aren't the numbers of Indian students growing?

I can personally vouch for the negative atmosphere in our community, based on e-mails I've received, personal incidents and anecdotal information from students. I also know that the “Fighting Sioux” nickname seems to bring out the worst in some members of our communities. Who wants to spend time in a negative atmosphere?"

Get the Story:
Dorreen Yellow Bird: Nickname adds to enrollment woes (The Grand Forks Herald 2/7)

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