Just days before the University of North Dakota holds a vote on a new nickname, there's another reminder that the controversy over dropping the old “Fighting Sioux” nickname hasn't yet gone away.
An alumnus of UND has created a modified design of the Fighting Sioux logo with its tongue sticking out, and is selling apparel online.
The Forum News Service reports that Karl Larson, who lives in Denver, recently set up a website, New Sioux, to sell T-shirts and sweatshirts with the logo on them. He calls it a "parody apparel company."
But the university is not amused.
The school retired the Fighting Sioux moniker in 2012, after a long and contentious legal battle over whether the symbols were offensive to local Sioux tribes and other American Indians.
The NCAA threatened sanctions, and eventually UND agreed to drop the Fighting Sioux name, and a new one is to be chosen later this month.
UND spokesman Peter Johnson told the Forum the school owns the trademark to the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo, and is telling Larson he must "cease and desist" using the logo, even in modified form.
"Certainly we understand people have rights, freedom of expression rights," Johnson said. "There are legal protections that come into play, so we're looking to protect our image."
Larson said he's received positive feedback from most people, and in fact, three of his nine shirt styles available on his website are out of stock.
"There are a lot of people who see it and just start laughing out loud right away," he told the newspaper.
Johnson said the university would like to discuss the matter with Larson and settle it without taking legal action.
Vote on new nickname coming up
UND announced recently it will hold an online vote in mid-October to determine the school's new nickname, although the exact dates haven't yet been announced, but the survey will take place for approximately one week.
To be eligible to vote, you must be a UND retiree, a current employee, a current student (as of Sept. 30, 2015), UND alumnus, or a donor or season ticket-holder (as of Aug. 31, 2015).
The five nicknames up for a vote are:
- Fighting Hawks
- North Stars
The winning nickname simply needs to receive a majority of greater than 50 percent of the votes. If none of the five options receive a majority vote, the two top vote-getters will advance to a runoff vote.
Each person is allowed one vote.
All voters will need to go through an email confirmation process that will be announced at a later date.