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Courtesy of the Chester Fritz Library/University of North Dakota and James I. Bowie

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Sociologist James I. Bowie’s Emblemetric blog examines patterns and trends in logo architecture application quantitative assay of abstracts from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Here at The Eye, Bowie shares a contempo column about the University of North Dakota’s chase for a new appellation and logo for its able-bodied teams.

American colleges and universities accept now abundantly alone Built-in American nicknames and logos that abounding acquisition offensive. In 2012, afterward a action that had lasted years, the University of North Dakota alone its Fighting Sioux nickname, which had been acclimated by its able-bodied teams back 1930. Back then, the North Dakota teams accept played afterwards a nickname, article about exceptional of in American sports. This year, accepting completed a two-year “cooling-off period,” the university will activate the action of selecting a new nickname. The old name, however, does not attending like it will be abandoned quickly.

On a frigid Friday night in Grand Forks, North Dakota, in November, I aing the throngs of UND hockey admirers as they filed into the deluxe Ralph Engelstad Amphitheatre to watch their team, a abiding academy hockey assertive ranked No. 2 in the nation, booty on No. 7 Miami University RedHawks from Oxford, Ohio, area I grew up.

“Let’s go, Sioux!” shouted one fan disembarking from a shuttle bus. “Who said that?” asked another, in apish animus over the announcement of the banned name. “Everyone,” deadpanned a third.

And indeed, account later, back the accessible abode anchorperson apparent the accession of the home aggregation to the ice with, “Here comes the University of North Dakota … ” acutely all 11,537 in appearance abounding in the bare by bellowing “SIOUX!”

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“The Ralph,” as the amphitheatre is known, is itself a cairn to the Fighting Sioux appellation and logo. Engelstad, a above UND hockey amateur who fabricated a affluence in the Las Vegas bank business, caked added than $100 actor into architecture the arena. During its architecture in the backward 1990s, the altercation over the appellation flared up, and Engelstad threatened to abjure his banking abutment if the appellation was changed.

As a aegis adjoin that possibility, Engelstad, afore his afterlife in 2002, had the Sioux logo emblazoned everywhere he could in the arena, authoritative its abatement cost-prohibitive. The “quick facts” area of the arena’s website goes so far as to point out that the Ralph contains “2,200 logos.” (My father, who able Russian at Miami, told me that this reminded him of the adventure of Russia’s “mad czar,” Paul I, son of Catherine the Great, who, in a fit of insecurity, bashed his cipher all over his new castle, alone to be assassinated 40 canicule afterwards he confused in.)

Courtesy of Sportslogos.net

The logo, a delineation of a aloof Built-in American in profile, had itself been commissioned by Engelstad in 1999 to alter antecedent marks that UND had used, including a 1960s American Indian caricature, a 1976 abstruse arch logo, and a adaptation of the Chicago Blackhawks’ acclaim animated American Indian with checkered feathers, adopted with the permission of the Civic Hockey Alliance team.

Courtesy of James I. Bowie

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Before the game, I strolled about the arena. Sioux logos were, indeed, everywhere, from the granite attic to statues, from allowance cardinal signs to the “center ice” of a balloon hockey game. Engelstad’s plan had worked: There were aloof too abounding logos to get rid of them all, and a 2012 acceding amid the NCAA, which had affected the appellation ban, and the North Dakota advocate accepted antipodal a antecedent edict and accustomed the logos to stay.

The nickname, too, was readily begin in the arena, alike admitting it could not clearly canyon anyone’s lips. Christmas shoppers awash the “Sioux Shop,” a name that I accept was an advance over the “Sioux-venirs” moniker that the university had acclimated in the past. Their purchases were in affirmation about the arena, as the abundant majority of admirers were decked out in aggregation merchandise, abundant of it of the Fighting Sioux variety.

The atmosphere in the arranged amphitheatre was electric, and the d was exciting, with the visitors affairs out a 3–2 victory. Miami, too, had been through a appellation change, as in 1997 the teams that I grew up acclaim for as the Redskins became the RedHawks, complete with the appropriate ’90s midword capitalization. That change had met far beneath attrition than what was actuality bidding at UND.

The Sioux appellation appeared to be heavily built-in in the bounded culture, and it seemed that the alfresco burden that had led to its abatement alone fabricated UND admirers added acquisitive to authority assimilate it. In my auberge allowance that night, I noticed that the walls were not adorned with the all-encompassing artwork archetypal of such accommodations, but with actual photographs of UND hockey admirers in Fighting Sioux gear.

The aing day, I abhorred the Grand Forks cold, walking from my auberge bottomward a alley to the adjoining Alerus Center, a assemblage ability that additionally serves as home to the UND football team. There I watched the Lumberjacks of Northern Arizona University, area I teach, face North Dakota on the gridiron. While the hockey d had akin two civic powers, the football d was a affair of teams from the about bush of the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision, and there was far beneath action in the air.

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The Alerus Center, while affable enough, had a sterile, dispersed feel. It was a city-owned ability off the UND campus, and there were absolutely no Sioux logos to be seen—only an chain “ND” cipher served to represent the team. The UND supporters, as they had been at the hockey game, were acquisitive to extend pleasantries to me as a fan of the visiting team, demography “Minnesota nice” to the aing level. The appear army of 5,916, which acquainted and articulate abate than that, was advised to a hard-fought contest, which the North Dakotans won with a last-second acreage goal, adventurous NAU’s hopes for a Big Sky Conference championship.

Ironically, NAU football drillmaster Jerome Souers, the alone Built-in American arch drillmaster in Division I academy football, is of Sioux descent, although he rejects the name as a French characterization imposed on his bodies and prefers to analyze himself as Lakota. At an NAU appointment about the Built-in American appellation altercation the anniversary afterwards the North Dakota game, he batten eloquently about his action to the use of Built-in Americans as mascots. Hearing him served as acceptance to me that the UND name change was necessary, and that holdouts such as the Florida State University Seminoles, the Cleveland Indians, and the Washington NFL aggregation would charge to change as well.

This cessation seems in band with my assay of abstracts from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which shows that the use of depictions of Built-in Americans in U.S. logos in accepted has been crumbling for decades.

Courtesy of Emblemetric

What, then, will be aing for North Dakota? The university has accustomed a “Nickname and Logo Action Recommendation Task Force,” which may in about-face accredit yet accession board to advice baddest a new name this year.

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In my opinion, universities accept often not done a acceptable job of replacing Built-in American nicknames and logos. Fearful of altercation and bedridden by board controlling processes, they accept generally called names and marks that are bland, generic, uninspiring, and defective in distinctiveness.

Birds are a archetypal choice. Of Division I schools that alone Built-in American nicknames, 39 percent after adopted bird mascots. By comparison, amid added Division I schools, alone 15 percent accept bird mascots.

Colors are additionally accepted in post–Native American nicknames. Absolutely bisected affection some advertence to color, compared with aloof 7 percent of added schools’ nicknames.

Sometimes, birds and colors are combined, as in the case of the Miami RedHawks, Seattle Redhawks, Southeast Missouri State Redhawks, and Marquette Golden Eagles. UND would do able-bodied to abstain these clichés by selecting a name that is characteristic and memorable.

Logos can be actual important to universities, and not aloof for their allegorical value; aloof ask the University of Texas, which makes added than $10 actor a year by licensing its Longhorn mark. In designing a new logo, North Dakota would be astute to abstain a beheld trend that has been afflictive academy sports in contempo years: the “mean mascot” logo. While mascots accept continued been depicted in advancing postures that betoken competitiveness, academy amulet logos of backward accept adopted a assumption of bleak grimaces and afflicted expressions that assume to advance that able-bodied antagonism could never absorb an ounce of fun.

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Courtesy of Sportslogos.net

And this array of abrupt backwoods creatures, affronted men in hats, and affronted birds doesn’t aloof betoken joylessness, but may additionally announce insignificance: While 54 percent of schools in the NCAA’s “Power Five” conferences, the accurate big-time schools of academy sports, accept mean-mascot logos, absolutely 73 percent of the added Division I universities, the added bush schools, do. And 19 percent of the Power Five accept smiling, blessed amulet logos, compared with aloof 5 percent of the abate schools. In some sense, a beggarly amulet may be a assurance of actuality small-time: The added arresting academy able-bodied programs are added acceptable to accept the aplomb to go with a beneath “intimidating,” added relatable, blessed mascot.

Courtesy of Sportslogos.net

I abide that if UND wishes to be perceived as a able sports program, it should abstain a logo with a bad-humored amulet and instead opt for one that suggests confidence, positivity, and fun.

The best abundant arena for creative, fun sports nicknames and logos currently exists about accessory alliance baseball teams. These organizations, compared with universities, are almost unencumbered by attitude and the charge for solemnity. They assume to aces names and logos that will draw admirers and advertise T-shirts through adorable architecture and acceptable humor.

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The University of North Dakota faces a boxy claiming in that so abounding of its admirers assume afraid to let go of the Fighting Sioux name. In addition, acrimonious an official appellation by agency of a board presents issues of its own, as artistic endeavors are not calmly able through authoritative processes. Alike the appellation official nickname is an oxymoron; nicknames are inherently breezy and arose in the able in added amoebic ways.

I don’t anticipate that there is an accessible band-aid to UND’s quandary, but I would like to advance one possibility: abiding to the nickname that was replaced by Fighting Sioux in 1930, the Flickertails. A flickertail is a accumulate built-in to North Dakota and was apparent by abounding at the university at the time as not boxy abundant to serve as a mascot. The aforementioned criticisms would apparently be collapsed today, but I would altercate that affirmation on a hyperaggressive amulet is apocalyptic of crisis about actuality a bush school. It’s account because that the Academy Football Playoff championship was aloof contested by the Ducks and the Buckeyes.

Flickertails would be a unique, memorable nickname, and it would accommodate itself to a artistic and fun logo analysis featuring a blessed mascot. But it additionally has a base in university history and attitude that would admission it a assertive legitimacy. So, what do you say, North Dakota?

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