Artist Calls Retirement of UND Logo DissapointingThe artist who created the University of North Dakota's current Fighting Sioux logo says he is proud of it and disappointed by its imminent demise but that life goes on.
By: Associated Press,
GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — The artist who created the University of North Dakota's current Fighting Sioux logo says he is proud of it and disappointed by its imminent demise but that life goes on.
"There are so many other problems we've got, real problems. Why spend all your energy on this?" Bennett Brien told the Grand Forks Herald.
Brien, who is Chippewa, created the American Indian head emblem for UND in 1999, when controversy over the school's nickname was heating up and critics objected to earlier logos they found to be demeaning. The state Board of Higher Education recently decided to retire the nickname and logo by year's end, after the NCAA refused to back down on threatened sanctions against the school. The NCAA considers the nickname offensive, and officials have said it also might hamper UND's attempt to join the Big Sky Conference next year as part of its switch to NCAA's Division I.
Brien said he does not consider his emblem to be a logo but a symbol of many things, including bravery, personal growth and the search for truth.
"It's not like a 'Gopher' or a 'Badger' — it's way above that," he said. "The politically correct people misinterpreted it."
Charles Kupchella, who was president of UND at the time the logo was created, said he thought it would quiet some critics.
"We were trying to get away from those logos that were cartoonish images of Indian people, and this was a very nice work of art," he said. "It not only showed some creativity, but Bennett had built into it the symbolism, the things he thought the picture represented. It was quite a good story, I thought, and if anything was going to work, it would be something like that."
Lucy Ganje, a professor of art at UND and a member of the Campus Committee for Human Rights, has been a leading opponent of the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo.
"The image itself is not the issue," she said. "It's how the image is being used. It was not commissioned as a piece of art but as a sports logo, so the meaning we draw from it is always based on the context in which it's used."
Brien said he did not expect anyone to object to his creation.
"When it was done, I looked at it and said, 'No way anybody's not going to like this,'" he said. "This will end all the squabbles, and everything will be cool."