Final nickname vote begins with no word on choosing a logo

GRAND FORKS -- As the final University of North Dakota nickname vote kicks off Thursday between Fighting Hawks and Roughriders, the university remains mum on how a corresponding logo will be developed for the winning name.

GRAND FORKS -- As the final University of North Dakota nickname vote kicks off Thursday between Fighting Hawks and Roughriders, the university remains mum on how a corresponding logo will be developed for the winning name.

After more than a year of meetings, surveys, feedback and several votes, the school is days away from picking a new name. The Fighting Sioux logo was retired in late 2012 after the NCAA threatened sanctions for its members using Native American imagery, and the school's athletes have played as UND or North Dakota ever since.

"Everyone is pretty ready for it to be done," UND Student Body President Matt Kopp said. "It's been a long process and everyone is looking forward to finally getting the results of the vote."

But when asked how logo development will work once a name is selected, UND spokesman Peter Johnson declined to say much more than to "stay tuned."

"When we know for sure what the nickname is we'll announce what that process is going to look like," he said.


This comes at a time when UND President Robert Kelley is slated to retire in January and be replaced by an interim leader, former North Dakota Gov. Ed Schafer. A permanent replacement is being sought with the aim having that person take office in July 2016.

At a meeting Tuesday, State Board of Higher Education members expressed the desire to have the nickname issue taken care of by the time a permanent president takes office.

When asked about how this will affect the logo development timeline, Johnson reiterated the school would wait until a name is picked before it announces how that process will look.

Eligible voters will receive an email with a link to vote starting at noon Thursday. The vote will conclude at 11:59 p.m. Monday, and results are expected later that week. The results of the last two votes have been released two days after the conclusion of the vote.

Online logos

Since mid-summer, logos have circulated on social media and generated support even though Johnson said none of them is connected to the vote or university.

"There are no official images of any kind that are associated with the two nicknames that are in the final vote," he said.


Most of the logos are tied to the Fighting Hawks option, something Kopp said he has noticed. He said the majority of students he has talked to prefer Fighting Hawks and are voting for it. The name has come out the clear winner in two votes, receiving 31 percent of votes in October and 46 percent earlier this month.

The university has had two runoff votes in order to have the winning name do so by majority.

One logo seen popularly on social media was designed by an indigenous Canadian artist from Toronto, Mike Ivall, depicting a fierce-looking bird's head with barbed colored feathers. For a time it was associated with the Chicago Blackhawks though it was sold to and continues to be used by an Ottawa-area hockey club called the Maplesoft Hawks, according to the team's website.

"I hope readers will know and understand that image has no connection to the nicknames that are being voted on," Johnson said. "Anybody who is projecting that isn't projecting the reality."

Kopp said he hopes that similarly to that bird logo, elements of the old Fighting Sioux face could be worked into a new design.

"That's what I think is drawing people to those logos in the first place," he said.

Another logo making the rounds on the Internet in regard to the UND nickname vote depicts a green hawk head with wings in the shape of a "U." It is unclear who designed it.

Johnson said the school is not soliciting nickname logo designs at this time.



UND went through several logo changes during the time of the Fighting Sioux.

After retiring the cartoonish "Sammy Sioux" mascot in 1972, a more geometric logo was introduced in 1976 for use alongside a rounded, smiling Indian head logo which was a version of the one used by the Chicago Blackhawks.

When racial slurs were used against Native Americans in the 1992 UND homecoming parade, then-UND President Kendall Baker had the Blackhawks logo removed from hockey uniforms one year later.

Johnson said in 1999, a piece of art commissioned by the UND Alumni Association and Foundation by artist Bennett Brien was unveiled and given to the university. Brien is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, and the logo he created was the intricately drawn, detailed Fighting Sioux logo still seen widely today.

Then-President Charles Kupchella said it wasn't intended to replace the old geometric logo which he said many people didn't care for because of its simplicity and lack of variety, but would be used alongside it.

Despite some initial backlash, Brien's logo went on to be the face of UND's Fighting Sioux name for years until its official retirement, though UND still holds the copyright and uses it to make and sell special edition merchandise.

Brien didn't respond to an interview request on Facebook but said in a 2011 interview that everything about the symbol had meaning: The face's focused gaze was searching for truth and the feathers stood for bravery and honor. Each color also meant something. Green symbolized UND along with gifts from the Earth, yellow symbolized the sun's warmth and light, white was for purity and respect and red was for life blood given by the creator.

"I did it for them, for the Fighting Sioux (teams) at UND, but I had a broader, wider thing in my mind, a universal thing," Brien said at the time. "I thought it would bridge all the gaps."

Across the country

When the NCAA banned its members from using Native American imagery in 2005, several schools had to make a change.

Arkansas State University switched from the Indians to the Red Wolves in 2008. According to the school's university communications office website, a steering committee gathered ideas from stakeholders and then recommended the red wolf as the new nickname and mascot. The mascot, logo and lettering was then created collaboratively by four department staff artists.

In 2006, the University of Louisiana at Monroe changed its logo from the Indians to the Warhawks. According to the alumni magazine from that year, 600 suggestions were submitted and narrowed down to 12 for a vote. New logos were designed around the winning name by Rickabaugh Graphics, an athletic design firm, and the one that was favored by focus groups was adopted.

While Central Washington University's logo change in 2012 had nothing to do with Native American imagery, a different approach was taken. Its newest Wildcat logo was designed by a university graduate who did graphic design work for the school.
The Ellensburg Daily Record reported Jeremy Higuchi first made the modern-looking red cat face logo for a class project. It was then brought to the university's public affairs office and tweaked over about eight months before it was released to replace the old Wildcat logo.

Kopp said regardless of what UND does to design a new logo, the students should have a voice and he would like to get involved.

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