Evolution of NDSU's Mascot

North Dakota State University Walking Tour

Evolution of NDSU's Mascot

Fargo, North Dakota 58105, United States

Created By: North Dakota State University

Point of Interest Details

We all know and have come to love Thundar, NDSU’s current mascot, but he hasn’t always been around. In fact, he is a fairly recent mascot in NDSU’s history. In fact, he is third in line of a rich, mascot history.

Since NDS is a land-grant school which means our base is in agriculture, our first mascot in the 1890s was the Farmers. It was then changed to the “Aggies” in the early 1900s, using the term

Thundar pumping up the crowd at a basketball game, circa 1990s [3].

“agriculture” as it’s base. But in 1922, The Spectrum ran an article saying that the N.D. club voted and agreed to change the name to the “Bisons”. They agreed that the “Fighting Aggies” was not intimidating enough. Countless of other colleges were using animals from their state, such as the University of North Dakota’s “Fighting Flickertails”, so they agreed on the bison because of its presence and domination on the prairie during the old days. Bison is also mentioned in our school song, so it was a logical choice to choose this animal to represent NDAC in athletic competitions. The school was going through a lot of transition, mainly controversy on changing the college’s name from North Dakota Agricultural College to North Dakota State University. It was during this time that we started using the bison mascot as to illustrate our presence in athletics. [1]

It was not until 1991 that our bison received an actual name, Thundar. He is now present at most NDSU athletic events taking “selfies” with kids, signing autographs, and boosting spirits. Over the years, the teams have added an additional name, “The Thundering Herd” which also describes our vast conquest during competitions. Some universities across the nation have a live animal as their mascot as well, but NDSU did not until 2014. It was at ESPN’s college GameDay where Lee Corso led out “Corso”, a 270 lb baby bison and a star was born. Our real-life mascot lives in Wahpeton at their zoo, but often comes to Fargo to make appearances at events and home games. [2]


  1. The Spectrum. "A.C. Athletics To Be Known As Bissons." The Spectrum, (Fargo, ND), March 3rd, 1922. NDSU Archives.
  2. Dunn, Connor. "NDSU's Newest Mascot." The Spectrum, (Fargo, ND), September 15th, 2014.
  3. Photo by NDSU Archives, https://flic.kr/p/bSSQ8H.

This point of interest is part of the tour: North Dakota State University Walking Tour


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