The profile of a famous Sioux warrior that has adorned North Dakota's highway signs for nearly a century is quietly being replaced by a rectangle.

One descendant of Marcellus Red Tomahawk said it "tears my heart out" that officials decided to swap out the markers featuring his great-great-grandfather with versions displaying the nondescript North Dakota outline.

The department says the change is intended to pay tribute to the upcoming 100th birthday of the state's transportation agency and to provide "uniformity" with other states' signage.

Marcellus Red Tomahawk was involved in the killing of Sitting Bull in 1890 and was the first chairman of the Standing Rock Reservation.

The state adopted Red Tomahawk's profile signs in 1923. The agency had no public hearings but consulted with some of Red Tomahawk's descendants.