University of North Dakota president Robert Kelley announced Monday that he had been directed by the State Board of Higher Education to resume the process of retiring the school's "Fighting Sioux" nickname and logo, with the goal of substantially completing the process by year's end.
The directive came on the heels of a meeting Friday between North Dakota and NCAA representatives at which the latter group refused to retreat from the association's stance that continued use of the Sioux name and imagery would lead to sanctions against the university, including disqualifying it from hosting NCAA postseason events.
Monday marked the original retirement deadline established last year by the higher education board, and the university was working toward that end. However, the state Legislature voted in the meantime to outlaw the change, forcing Kelley to suspend the retirement process.
Governor Jack Dalrymple has indicated that he will urge the Legislature to readdress the issue during a special session in November.
A years-old debate, during which the university has been compared to - and some would argue singled out among - other schools that use Native American imagery, not to mention sued by UND students, may be finally coming to a close. But traditions, such as replacing the last word of the National Anthem with "Sioux" at ice hockey games, no doubt will die hard. The university, which in 2000 saw funding for the $100 million hockey arena it has leased since 2001 teeter over the mascot issue, is allowed to use the nickname for another four and a half months. Starting now, though, it can once again call itself the home of the brave.