A Breakdown Of The Battle: Fighting Sioux Nickname

Ann McClure's picture
Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The history:

The University of North Dakota debuted the "Sioux" part of its nickname more than 80 years ago. UND's student newspaper on Oct. 3, 1930, hyped the change with a front-page headline reading: "'Sioux' replaces `Flickertail' as Captain of University Sports Teams." Flickertail, the previous nickname, referred to a type of ground gopher. Apparently, school officials decided the rodent didn't instill appropriate fear in opponents.

But why "Sioux"?

Before the Dakotas became states, they were part of the Sioux Nation. As gold helped push the population farther west, UND was founded in 1883 in the Dakota Territory. (North Dakota became a state six years later.) The term Sioux isn't without its own history -- it's part of an Ojibwa-French pejorative term meaning "snakes" -- but in 1930 it was accepted as a nod to the area's Native American history. In a 1969 pipe ceremony on the UND campus, some representatives from the Standing Rock and Spirit Lake tribes reportedly gave the university permanent rights to use the nickname.

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