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Mich. man responds to offensive T-shirt with different message

Bobby Bird Jr., doesn’t have any direct connection to Grand Forks, but when he heard about the offensive “Siouxper drunk” T-shirts worn here, he said, he felt he had to respond.

Bird’s record company out of Mt. Pleasant, Mich., is selling T-shirts online with the words “Siouxper sober.” Like the original shirts worn by some UND students and others here, the similar design on the new shirt has the word “Siouxper” in green, UND’s school color.

Although Bird, who is of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, and his colleagues aren’t directly connected to UND or Grand Forks, they want to fight the stereotype of associating American Indians with alcoholism, he said.

“We’ve just seen this blatant racism,” Bird said. “These stereotypes, it’s kind of mind-blowing.”

It doesn’t matter that he isn’t Sioux or from Grand Forks, he said.

“With natives, we’re really close-knit as a people.”

Bird doesn’t drink alcohol or use drugs, his fiance, Amanda, has been sober for 12 years and his colleague who designed the “Siouxper sober” shirts, Cody Bigjohn, has been sober for more than 10 years, he said.

“That’s something we’re proud of,” he said. He doesn’t want his children to participate in drugs or alcohol either, he added.

The original T-shirts were worn by some UND students and other people attending Springfest, an annual event in University Park popular with UND students but not sponsored by the university.

Since then, UND officials and Grand Forks city officials have condemned the shirts’ design as racist and offensive.

News of the offensive shirts, which depicted an American Indian drinking from a beer funnel, spread through media across the U.S., especially with American Indians on social media, Bird said.