UND starts transition from Fighting Sioux nickname


MPR file photo

University of North Dakota President Robert Kelley sent a memo across campus this week outlining the process for ending use of the Fighting Sioux nickname.

The memo follows a decision last month by North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple to sign a law allowing the state’s flagship university to shed its 81-year-old nickname.

North Dakota tribes are divided over the nickname use. The Spirit Lake nation voted to support the use of the name and logo, while the Standing Rock tribal council declined to bring the issue to a vote of residents. Under NCAA rules, both tribes needed to support use of the Fighting Sioux nickname in order for UND to continue using it.

Kelley says much of the initial Fighting Sioux logo removal should be done by the end of December. Most Fighting Sioux images will be removed from the university’s website, according to the memo.

“The University will also remove nickname Images and verbiage from University owned facilities, except for their use in historical or similar applications, such as championship banners.”

It’s not clear what the process will be at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, since the facility is not owned by the university. But the agreement with the NCAA to end use of the nickname allows many Fighting Sioux images to remain in the arena:

University athletes will still use Fighting Sioux gear for a few months. For example, Kelley says new uniforms for the men’s hockey team won’t be available until February, so the team will finish the season with their current uniforms. They won’t be able to wear the Fighting Sioux logo during tournament play.

Fighting Sioux gear also will be available to the public for some time:

“Licensed vendors will be allowed to produce apparel and merchandise with the Fighting Sioux name and logo through March 31, 2012, and will have until June 30, 2012, to sell off their stock. Retailers will be able to sell Fighting Sioux apparel and merchandise as long as supplies last, but there will be no more production of Fighting Sioux apparel and merchandise under existing licenses after March 31, 2012.”

Under North Dakota state law, the university can’t adopt a new logo or nickname before 2015.

There are still legal cases, both to save the nickname and eliminate it, making their way through the courts.