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Published April 17, 2012, 06:05 PM

Exhibit at UND Explores History, Controversy of Native American Mascots, Logos

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - A display at University of North Dakota this week explores the history and controversy of using Native American mascots and logos.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - A display at University of North Dakota this week explores the history and controversy of using Native American mascots and logos.

It's part of the 42nd annual "Time Out Week" which features exhibits and speakers dealing with Native American issues.

Richie Plass, who grew up on a reservation, has spent the last few years trying to educate people about issues that can come from the use Native American mascots and logos.

Plass grew up in Wisconsin as a member of the Menominee/Stockbridge-Munsee tribes. On Tuesday at UND, he set up an exhibit that he spent the last six years collecting. It's a room full of news articles, posters and shirts.

"It's the good, the bad, and the ugly of how our name has been used and is still used. Not only for the mascots and logos, but in education and marketing," Plass said.

One of the items Plass classifies as "ugly" is a poster of the Kansas City Chiefs football team posing as Native Americans in ceremonial dress. Other displays show what a sports team might be called if other ethnic backgrounds were used as macots or logos.

In high school, Plass had a first-hand terrible experience when he tried being the Indian mascot for his school.

"After the third game I did it, which was an away game, I was laughed at, had food thrown on me and I was spit on," Plass said.

Plass says he hopes his exhibit helps educate people on harmful effects of American Indian mascots and logos, though he says he does respect the opinions of others who don't share his views.

"Indian people come up to me and say, 'You know what, I like the Cleveland Indians, I like the Washington Red Skins.' And I go, 'Why?' And then they tell me and I go 'Cool, but I don't.' Because like I said, I personalize it,' Plass said.

If you are interested in checking out the collection, you can see it in the Badlands Room in the UND Memorial Union through Friday.

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