'Siouxper Drunk' shirts creating controversy

Posted at: 05/15/2014 6:27 PM
By: Devin Neeley, KOB Eyewitness News 4

It's a T-shirt that's getting a lot of backlash tonight.

The shirt, created by some students at the University of North Dakota, shows an Indian chief head drinking beer.

It also takes a jab at a Native American tribe.

Navajo Nation members say it's more than just a negative impact.

"Racism is alive. Racism is well and alive, unfortunately," said Duane 'Chili' Yazzie.

Yazzie was shocked to see the shirt.

It says, "Siouxper Drunk"; the 'Sioux' referring to the Native American tribe.

"It's very disturbing to think that there are people that would stoop so low to take advantage of people that are already disadvantaged," Yazzie said.

Yazzie said the shirt makes fun of many people on the Navajo Nation who struggle with alcoholism.

"It's a very serious problem," he said.

Robert Tso agrees.

"I believe the alcoholic problem with the Lakota Sioux is much more intense."

Tso is a pastor at Victory Life Church in Shiprock. He travels to North Dakota to work with Sioux alcoholics. 

"This is not an area of healing for them, they are getting there but this is just a setback," Tso said.

Yazzie says alcoholism is just one of many problems plaguing the Navajo Nation and other native tribes.

"Along with adequate shelter and employment and so forth, economic development, those are bigger and greater issues that we need to focus on in Native American governments," he said.

He says that when those issues are addressed--- the native people can finally overcome stereotypes and begin to heal.

"The sensitivities are very open, it is a wound," Tso said.