UPDATED 10:23 a.m.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. - A group of American Indian students plans to file a discrimination complaint about a sorority party here during which students dressed up in American Indian costumes and slathered their faces and bodies with red makeup.
Photos from a Gamma Phi Beta party in November show female students wearing "Indian maiden" dresses, stitched up the side with fringe at the bottom, and feather headdresses.
Some male students are naked in the photos except for underwear and brown T-shirts wrapped around their waists as makeshift loincloths and red makeup across their faces and chests.
The group plans to file its complaint with the University of North Dakota's affirmative action office Monday.
Several party photos, posted on the Facebook site of soror-ity president Anastasia Ginda, show one of the scantily clad male students with one hand raised and a solemn expression on his face, seemingly imitating a stereotypical Indian pose.
Facebook is an online social networking site.
The students filing the complaint, all associated with UND's American Indians Student Services house, called the costumes an insult to their culture and a prime example of racial insensitivity. The affront was made worse, they said, because the Gamma Phi house is located next door to the AISS house and sorority members often make the short walk to use the house's computers and printers.
"When we first moved in (about two years ago), we invited them over for a sup-per, to make friends and do a welcome to the neighborhood thing," said BJ Rainbow, president of the UND Indian Association and one of the students who filled out the discrimination form.
"I just don't know how we can try to teach them about our ways when they throw parties like this. What's the breaking point for us? If this happens again, do we invite them over again? I just don't understand how they can have no regard for who we are."
Past Gamma Phi President Jillian Krivarchka said the party was held off campus and was billed as a cowboys-themed party, not an Indians-themed party.
"People chose to dress in a different way and we had no control over how they chose to act," she said.
Krivarchka, who was Gamma Phi's president when the party took place, said it was brought up at a meeting of fraternity and sorority leaders soon after it happened.
"It wasn't our intent to make anyone upset about it," she said. "It was brought up to us and we said we understand it was not the best thing."
Anastasia Ginda, the current Gamma Phi president who posted the party photos on her Facebook page, did not returned calls seeking com-ment. A message for Erinn Hakstol, the chapter's non-student advisor, left with her father Friday, was not returned. Hakstol is the wife of UND men's hockey coach Dave Hakstol and daughter of UND Alumni Association director Tim O'Keefe.
UND Vice President for Student and Outreach Services Bob Boyd said he had not heard of the party, but was not sure if anyone in his office had been told about it.
After being shown the pho-tos Friday, UND spokesman Peter Johnson said he couldn't comment in detail until the university receives the discrimination complaint.
"If we get a request for an investigation, we'll follow up using our normal proce-dures," he said. "We generally like to get as much information as we can before going too far out. We'd hope our students would show proper respect for all people and I don't think the images I saw show that."
Race relations have been a tense topic for many years at UND because of controversy surrounding the school's Fighting Sioux team nick-name and Indian head logo, both long opposed by many American Indian student and student and faculty groups.
The nickname also fell afoul of a 2005 NCAA policy banning most American Indian imagery in college sports. UND sued the NCAA over that policy in 2006 and a set-tlement agreement, signed in November after a yearlong and multimillion dollar legal battle, requires the school to retire its nickname in three years if it cannot win the endorsement of North Dakota's two Sioux tribes.
The NCAA policy describes American Indian nicknames and logos as creating a "hos-tile and abusive" campus environment for American Indians, but UND always has maintained the nickname and logo are used with respect for American Indians.
Margaret Scott, a UND junior and president of BRIDGES, an anti-nickname student group, first encountered the Gamma Phi party photos late last week while surfing friends' Facebook profiles.
She copied the photos onto her own photobucket.com site and created a slideshow with critical comments such as "they claim it is an honor to American Indians" and "honor at its best," which she e-mailed to an anti-nickname campus listserv.
AISS Director Leigh Jeanotte on Thursday for-warded Scott's slideshow to several student services officials and to Sally Page, the school's affirmative action officer, who will investigate the students' discrimination complaint.
Jeanotte said he's heard of similar parties on campus in the past, but not in recent years.
Racial tensions have flared up at UND in the past, sometimes involving the school's fraternities and sororities. But the most controversial events have never been In-dian-themed parties.
Students protested in 1992, for example, after some fraternity and sorority members hurled racial epithets at a group of American Indian student and children during UND's homecoming parade. In 1972, a fraternity built an ice sculpture on its lawn that was extremely offensive to American Indians. Ultimately, several American Indian students kicked the sculpture down, leading to a fistfight and more protests.