The University of North Dakota Has to Sell Controversial Merchandise
Four years ago, the University of North Dakota retired its mascot—Fighting Sioux—and now, after a few years as simply "UND," the school is adopting the Fighting Hawks nickname. However, the university is selling Fighting Sioux merchandise again. Why? Because the NCAA, the same organization that called the nickname offensive to Native Americans, said it has to.
According to the Star Tribune, the school's 2007 settlement agreement with the NCAA over the nickname required it to maintain the Fighting Sioux trademark.
The University of North Dakota was the last school on the NCAA's list of schools with American Indian-related mascots, logos or nicknames that could be considered objectionable to maintain its name. The NCAA required the university to maintain the logo so that it alone would have control over it, preventing others from flooding the market with Fighting Sioux sweatshirts and lanyards.
In order to maintain a trademark, it has to be used. To do so, the school offered a limited series of items in a Dacotah Heritage Collection that came out this month.
"You have to be able to prove that you've used that trademark in order to keep it," Ed Schafer, interim president of the University of North Dakota, said to the Star Tribune. "You would have to use it the same way that you have been using it."
Schafer also said that he would prefer if the school did not have to sell Fighting Sioux merchandise, especially while it transitions to its new nickname, but the switch would not be effective if another party sold Fighting Sioux merchandise in bulk.
A University of North Dakota spokesperson told the Star Tribune that the university sold the license to a few stores to sell more than 9,000 pieces of merchandise—including 1,000 sweatshirts, 300 lanyards and 3,000 hats.
The university also is working with a New York-based design company to create its new Fighting Hawks logo. Fans have sent the university some original ideas for the new logo, but Schafer isn't a big fan of the designs.
"They all are incorporating some element of the old Fighting Sioux logo onto the Fighting Hawks [logo]," he told the Star Tribune. "And we're not going there."