North Dakota State University could remove the second and third stanzas of the school song "Yellow and Green" because of its "troubling" lyrics.
President Dean Bresciano admitted he had only ever heard the song's first stanza before as that's the only part performed at school events, but has called for the immediate removal of the second and third after they came to his attention, according to the Fargo Forum.
The third stanza refers to "the red man" as well as mentioning "the Norse, the Celt and Saxon," and Bresciano felt the lyrics could be construed as offensive by modern standards.
"I’ve learned that the third stanza contains a variety of cultural and ethnic references (toward both majority and minority populations) which by contemporary standards are troubling," he wrote in an email to the campus.
The third verse has already been removed from the school's website, but it read as follows:
"Hushed upon the boundless prairies Is the bison's thundering tread,
And the red man passes with him
On his spoiler's bounty fed.
But the Norse, the Celt and Saxon
With their herds increase and find
Mid these fields of green and yellow
Plenty e'en for all mankind."
"While some may initially find it an overstated concern, others will find it central to a deep and sober examination of our campus history," he added, according to Valley News Live.
The TV station spoke to NDSU's director of tribal and indigenous people's studies Dr. Michael Yellow Bird, said the references to "red man" and buffalo are "clear references to Manifest Destiny." He thinks the song needs to be re-examined by NDSU as it celebrates "the genocide of Native Americans."
According to HistoryRFD, a website run by NDSU history professor Tom Isern, the second stanza doesn't feature much in the way of contentious language, focusing on the wheat harvest, but he does admit the third stanza "is something of an embarrassment to us going on a century later."
Bresciano wants the song to feature only its first stanza for now, while a group of faculty, staff and students review it and come forward with recommendations that balance the school's history with modern "concerns for its appropriateness," the Forum notes.
Bresciano said the lyrics were brought to to his attention through the university’s system for confidential reporting of bias issues.