Aren't there more important things for the state Legislature to deal with than a team nickname?
Let it go, already. Don't try to resurrect what was deliberated for years before finally being acted on.
Let the University of North Dakota join the ranks of the thousand or so enlightened schools nationwide that have retired American Indian nicknames. Don't try to force UND to stand with the few schools like Florida State and Illinois that have worked questionable deals to keep their team names.
And certainly don't try to force the Standing Rock tribal government to do the state government's bidding on this matter. That would be bad form indeed, reminiscent of past coercions inflicted on a minority culture by the dominant culture.
As I have asked before, why the strong attachment to a team name, especially one that offends a people? If it offends, change it. That's what Washington Redskins player Dexter Manley said some years back about his team.
But it seems that neutral names are more easily changed than offensive ones.
In the middle of the last century, for example, Marquette University went from Hilltoppers to Warriors, and hardly anyone noticed. More recently, when they changed from Warriors to Golden Eagles, there was considerable opposition.
Hillsboro (Wisconsin) high school went from Orioles to Tigers with nary a comment. When Dickinson High School retired the Midgets, however, townspeople rose up in opposition and the school board reinstated the name.
As I wrote before, and can't resist citing again, one average-sized person actually said in a TV news interview: "I'm a Midget, my children are Midgets, and I want my grandchildren to be Midgets, too."
Two years ago when my high school in Tomah, Wis., changed its team name from Indians to Timberwolves, there was considerable discussion in the online edition of the local paper.
I wish I'd saved some of the comments, particularly those of American Indian students and their parents. They cited examples of racism, including some related to or stemming from the team name.
There were also some angry and culturally clueless comments by those who wanted to keep the name, essentially saying: this is our country, we are the dominant majority, and we get to do the naming; what do the Indians have to say about it?
This outlook was predominant when the Sioux name was adopted in the 1930s, hardly an enlightened period. Just look at depictions of minorities in movies of that era. They make you wince.
We can do better than stick to this 1930's mindset, as Illinois and Florida State are doing.
We can let UND do its job as a teaching institution, drawing on its educational resources, particularly the departments of Sociology and of Indian Studies.
And we can urge some state legislators to take a UND extension course on issues such as cultural sensitivity and the negative effects of appropriating a minority cultures' name and image for a relatively trivial purpose within the dominant culture.
We can also come up with a more appropriate name, such as I just happen to have here.
It could honor the UND School of Aerospace Sciences (which has won twice as many national titles as the UND hockey team) and also the Grand Forks and Minot Air Force Bases and their mission of protecting our country. Yet it is generic enough that it belongs to no particular group.??
The new name: Flyers, or Fighting Flyers.