Tepee Offends Some on College Campus

September 22, 2000

Source: The Associated Press

On September 22, 2000, The Associated Press reported on a University of North Dakota fraternity is that is "drawing criticism for a tepee members erected in their front yard. The Sigma Alpha Epsilon house put up the tepee Wednesday as part of a fund-raising activity, and never intended to offend anyone, said an apologetic Nick West, president of the fraternity. The tepee has since been taken down. Merry Ketterling, an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and secretary for UND's Indian Studies Department, said the fraternity was insensitive. 'I felt hurt,' she said, noting that the incident came at a time when officials are discussing whether the school's 'Fighting Sioux' nickname is offensive and should be changed. 'With all of this controversy that's been going on, and now this. When is anybody ever going to learn?' Members of the fraternity decorated the tepee with symbols including a buffalo skull and a peace pipe, as well as a rendering of a mounted Indian carrying a spear. 'I know for a fact the guys here aren't educated enough about Native American culture to know what those symbols mean; they just threw some symbols on there,' West said. 'There was zero intent of hurting anyone.' Ketterling said the buffalo skull and peace pipe are sacred to Indians, and the tepee showed the students' lack of understanding. 'It comes back to generations of stereotyping,' she said."