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Matt Von Pinnon, Published April 11 2010

Von Pinnon: Fighting Sioux traditions will live on despite change

If you’ve ever been to a University of North Dakota sporting event, you know that at the conclusion of the national anthem, “… home of the brave” is substituted with “… home of the Sioux.”

Don’t expect that to change anytime soon, and perhaps never, despite last week’s decision that the university drop its Fighting Sioux nickname and logo.

Universities, like most major community institutions, are full of traditions. That’s part of the allure for students who later become alumni. Traditions are the ties that bind.

The Civil War concluded 145 years ago, and yet the Confederate flag is still widely displayed in the South. Identities and associations don’t change overnight, though they may change over generations.

Expect the same when it comes to the Sioux nickname and logo in these parts. UND alumni and fans will continue to wear Fighting Sioux apparel. Homemade signs with the nickname and logo will be displayed at sporting events. People will still shout “home of the Sioux” at the end of the national anthem.

That the state and university have chosen to retire the nickname and logo is largely symbolic of modern-day pressures and issues.

But an institutional identity is never stronger than a cultural one.

UND freshmen will be indoctrinated into the Fighting Sioux tradition by upperclassmen. Underground clubs may form to keep the traditions alive. People will identify as either Fighting Sioux supporters or not.

As symbolic as last week’s decision was, symbolism is where it ends. It doesn’t take a college degree to figure out that the Fighting Sioux will live on long after UND changes its official identity.

Secret flood meetings

The Forum is troubled by a couple of recent attempts (that we know of) by public officials to keep meetings secret about long-term flood protection and how area taxpayers will fund it.

Twice in two weeks, we stumbled upon meetings we felt should have been open to the public and properly noticed. They involved high-level staff and several elected officials central to the area governments that will soon decide this area’s most ambitious and costly project in its history.

Lawyers for the metro cities and counties contend these meetings can be kept private because they make sure no quorum of any one elected body is present.

We contend these officials are clearly representing their respective bodies and therefore the meetings should be noticed and open, as required by law for a subcommittee or task force of any elected body.

And yet, regardless of the law, these officials should want to do their business in the open. Long-term flood protection, and who should pay for it, is too serious a matter for such secrecy.

Von Pinnon is editor of The Forum. Reach him at (701) 241-5579.