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Letter: A path to a new UND nickname

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If having a Native American element as part of their nickname is important to the University of North Dakota, here’s a path that might work.

UND should adopt as its mascot the likeness of an American soldier. And that soldier should be a Lakota code talker. University President Robert Kelley should travel to Standing Rock and consult with tribal authorities and elders to ask permission to use the Lakota code talker as their mascot. UND could be called the “Code Talkers.”

The mascot would be displayed in the uniform of a World War I soldier. As part of the request of the tribe, Kelley should also include a component that all of UND’s coaches and athletes learn some Lakota and that some of the cheer team cheers be in the Lakota language.

In December 2013, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe received 46 Congressional Gold Medals honoring the Lakota code talkers who served the United States in World War I and World War II.

In her Dec. 12, 2013, Bismarck Tribune story about the Congressional Gold Medals, Lauren Donovan wrote: “The ceremony was one of both joy and sadness. Valiant men who fought for a country that did not even recognize them as citizens and whose contribution was a language their government hoped to eradicate were not given medals in their lifetimes.”

We need to continue honoring these men, and we can do that by getting permission to have UND adopt the Lakota code talkers. The accomplishments of the “valiant men” will then be kept alive at North Dakota’s first university.

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