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What's in a (nick)name?

More than 100 responses were received after last week's column inviting suggestions for a new nickname for UND athletic teams. I thank you for that.

More than 100 responses were received after last week's column inviting suggestions for a new nickname for UND athletic teams. I thank you for that.

From the whimsical to the thoughtful, you attacked the subject with passion, wisdom and, in some cases, humor.

John Cook captured the heart of the subject the best.

"UND now has what is probably the most famous and recognizable logo and nickname in the entire country," he wrote. "Replacing it will not be easy."

From all reports, it now appears that the chance of winning tribal support for retaining the Fighting Sioux nickname is slim at best. Without that, UND has no choice but to make a change. From the insight and passion for the name you shared with me, I understand that it would be a gut-wrenching experience.


But if a change comes, what will it be?

It likely won't be "Fighting Attorneys," as Tim Lykken suggests, whereby the fans can at least keep the cheer "Let's go sue." Or the "Frozen Rectangle" as brought up by Don Negaard, either.

Would there be approval from the tribal councils if the name was changed slightly to "Mighty Sioux," as Karen Clark wonders?

A late-comer to the suggestion list came from Pat C. Miller who suggests Nokota, a horse that is North Dakota's official honorary equine and was around long before North Dakota became a state, Miller said.

"They have also been bred with Canadian horses, which makes them a wonderful symbol for the hockey team," Miller said. He said the name itself is a combination of "North" and "Dakota" and is not an Indian word, though Sitting Bull himself was said to have ridden a Nokota.

"And it's just a coincidence that these horses were used by the Sioux to hunt down bison," Miller wrote. "And think of the symbolism. Only wild North Dakota horses could drag us to change our name."

I like it, North Dakota State Bison fans may not.

The three most popular choices from you readers were "Roughriders," "Sun Dogs," and "None," with "North Stars"' in the No. 4 slot.


While the impact Teddy Roosevelt had on North Dakota history is well documented, Grand Forks Red River High School has claimed "Roughriders" as a nickname. We don't need our state university running roughshod over one of our local high schools.

Reader William Throndset is a supporter of "Sun Dogs" as were a few others. He points out that the phenomenon is closely tied to the northern winter. It has geographical uniqueness to our region with sunlight reflecting off ice crystals in the air. He suggests a logo of a bright diamond-shaped light with a little dog in the middle.

There were a lot of suggestions of names associating UND with aviation or the military, such as "Minutemen," "Aviators" and "Cavalry." And many with connections to our weather, such as "Blizzard" or "Tornadoes," all with merit for consideration. "What's more powerful than a North Dakota blizzard," Doug Hiney wrote. "A real Force of the North."

The variety of nickname suggestions made my head spin and my computer printer eventually run out of ink.

It seems like every good nickname out there is taken by some college, from A (Texas A&M Aggies) to Z (Akron Zips), as John Cook pointed out from his research. All the great ones are gone, he suggests.

Eventually I got back to the suggestion of Cook and others.

"So what's left?" Cook asked. "Here's a suggestion - no nickname. We are simply NORTH DAKOTA. Proud. Rugged. Tough. UND could be one of the few, if not the only, Division I school in the country without a nickname."

And that would make UND unique, and there's much to be said for that.


"As for the logo," Cook wrote, "we already have one. It's classy and distinctive. The current logo of the university is the initials UND with a flame in the middle of the D."

I'll address other suggestions from the readers in a future column. So keep them coming and give me your input on those suggested above.

Virg Foss writes a weekly column for the Herald from October through April. He can be reached at virgfoss@yahool.com or at (701) 772-9272.

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