In two weeks from today, voting will open for the new UND nickname. Current students, faculty, staff as well as alums, donors retirees and season-ticket holders will all get a chance to vote.
While I still think the nickname committee and president Robert Kelley botched it by taking away seemingly the most popular option of leaving it at North Dakota, I will be submitting a vote come Oct. 19 on one of the five finalists.
We at the Herald are always asked what name we’re going to vote for. A couple of weeks ago, sports editor Wayne Nelson revealed his pick in this column.
Like Wayne, I went through it all and ended up with Nodaks as the clear favorite. Here’s why:
Roughriders: The fact that it’s the local high school team’s name isn’t the biggest thing to me. The fact that this is a nod to Theodore Roosevelt, who despised Native Americans, makes this an absolute no-go. According to several sources, including Smithsonian Magazine, Roosevelt was quoted as saying: “I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth.” Yikes.
Would UND really get rid of its Native American nickname and choose a nod to someone who said that? It would seemingly be a slap in the face to the state’s Native Americans and would likely draw more nickname protests. After this long process, is that where UND wants to end up again?
Fighting Hawks: One of the main qualifications for a new nickname is originality and something that is “distinctly UND’s.” It’s hard to find something less original than a Hawk. There are 28 versions of a Hawk in college athletics. It’s one of the top 10 most frequently-used names. There’s already one in the state, and there’s one in UND’s hockey conference. I know there’s a logo going around the interwebs that people like, but I can assure you, that will not be the logo.
Sundogs: I don’t hate this one as much as many others seem to, but am not big on it either. This one just hasn’t gathered a whole lot of support.
North Stars: Not a bad name in itself, but it’s the nickname of Minnesota, not North Dakota. The nickname is supposed to represent North Dakota.
So that leaves us with Nodaks.
It’s really the only one that fits the criteria. Is it unique and “distinctly UND’s?” Yes. We know there will not be another Nodaks out there. Does it represent the state? Yes.
Another part of the criteria is finding something that honors the traditions and heritage of the past. That’s what sets Nodaks apart.
Nodaks was actually used by the university in the 1920s and 1930s. There actually is history with this nickname and the university.
Although the team’s official nickname back then was the Flickertails, by all historical accounts that I came across, the sports teams actually used Nodaks. There weren’t many instances where I even spotted references to Flickertails.
Here are some old photos. The first one is of Fritz Pollard Jr., the university’s first-ever Olympic medalist, at Memorial Stadium. He won a bronze medal in the 1936 Games.
And here are some editorials in the newspaper from the 1930s, where people wanted to keep the athletic teams as “Nodaks” and not switch it to “Sioux.”
So there you have it. After nearly 90 years, UND is once again picking a new name. I’m voting to go back where it all began.