Why FSU's use of the Seminole Nation's name and image is NOT racist!

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One of FSUs tributes to the Seminole Nation on campus
One of FSU's tributes to the Seminole Nation on campus

I received my BS degree from FSU in 1975 and my law degree from FSU in 1986. I love my alma mater and I am quite proud to have two degrees from such a great school.

I recently asked whether it is racist for FSU to use the Seminoles as their "mascot."

Is it racist for FSU to have the Seminoles as their mascot?

The majority of respondents thought it was not racist, and a considerable number had no opinion, but 14% thought that it was offensive or racist and it should be changed.

Why FSUs use of the Seminole Nations name and image is NOT racist!

Here are a few of the offended parties' comments:

"They shouldn’t be forced to change it but it is a little offensive to Native Americans especially members of the Seminole Nation"

"It’s very dehumanizing, so yes"

I believe that the essence of racism is an attitude of disrespect and disdain for a race or a culture, a condescending air of superiority, and sheer arrogance. To know how FSU intends their use of the Seminole image, you would need to know the history of how FSU came to be known as the Seminoles and how they currently portray the Seminoles. To assume that someone calling themselves the Seminoles is racist, without knowing any of the background, is what we call "prejudice."

As many people perceptively noted, it should be up to the Seminoles to decide whether the use of their name by FSU is racist, whether it should be allowed at all. So, here is the story of how it happened.


"The Seminole Tribe of Florida are a courageous, tenacious and determined people who, against great odds, have struggled successfully to preserve their culture and to live their lives according to their traditions and beliefs. As history shows, they are a people who have resolutely refused to accept defeat, whether at the hands of the U.S. military or when faced with the unforgiving wilderness of the Florida Everglades.

Why FSUs use of the Seminole Nations name and image is NOT racist!

"Since 1947, Florida State University has proudly identified itself with this heroic tribe. The name "Florida State Seminoles" was selected by vote of the university's student body in 1947, shortly after FSU became a coeducational institution and re-established a football team. The name was selected specifically to honor the indomitable spirit of the Florida Seminoles — those people whom the Seminole Tribe of Florida refers to as the "few hundred unconquered Seminole men, women and children left — all hiding in the swamps and Everglades of South Florida." FSU's use of the name honors the strength and bravery of these people, who never surrendered and ultimately persevered.

"In recent years, critics have complained that the use of all Native American names and symbols — by FSU and other universities, as well as by professional athletic teams — is "culturally hostile" or "offensive."

Why FSUs use of the Seminole Nations name and image is NOT racist!

Unfortunately, in some cases such names and symbols have in fact been misused and become derogatory. At FSU, however, we have worked diligently since 1947 to ensure that our representations of Seminole imagery bring only honor to the Seminole people.


"For more than seven decades, Florida State has worked closely, side by side, with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The relationship, built on respect, is so mutually supportive that in 2005 the tribe — which rarely puts such things in writing — took an unprecedented, historic step with a public declaration of support. The Seminole Tribe invited the university president at that time, T.K. Wetherell, to Big Cypress Reservation to receive a written resolution from the Tribal Council affirming its enthusiastic support for the university's use of the Seminole name, logos and images.

Why FSUs use of the Seminole Nations name and image is NOT racist!

Subsequently, Chief Jerry Haney of the Seminole Tribe of Oklahoma also publicly stated his support.

"The council's action was recognition of Florida State's continued collaboration with the tribe to 1) include prominent participation by tribal members in many of the university's most meaningful events, and 2) seek advice and direction to ensure tribal imagery is authentic. The university continues to welcome these opportunities to expose our students, faculty, staff and alumni to the Seminoles' history and traditions and reflects what we value as an institution — multiculturalism and diversity. In return, the Seminoles’ culture and lore are kept alive.

"There are a number of examples that illustrate this collaboration:

"Florida State does not have a mascot. Instead, we have the honor of calling ourselves “Seminoles” in admiration of the only Native American tribe never conquered by the U.S. Government.

"FSU students, alumni, faculty and staff know what an honor it is to be selected as the student to portray "Osceola," a great Seminole warrior, who rides the Appaloosa horse "Renegade" during football games. To be chosen, the student must maintain excellent grades and be of good character. The clothing he wears depicting Osceola is sewn by the women of the Seminole Tribe.

Why FSUs use of the Seminole Nations name and image is NOT racist!

"Tribal members also travel to Tallahassee each year to crown the Homecoming chief and princess with authentic Seminole regalia.

Why FSUs use of the Seminole Nations name and image is NOT racist!

"It is a moving sight for graduates and their families when men and women from the tribe in brightly colored Seminole dress march in as the color guard at each university commencement ceremony.

"Members of the tribe have also traveled to town to build a real "chickee," a thatched-roof Seminole dwelling at our lakeside student recreation area near campus.

Why FSUs use of the Seminole Nations name and image is NOT racist!

"The university established a scholarship program that pays the way for students from the reservations to attend Florida State. Many of them are the first in their families to attend college.

"In 2006, the university honored the Seminole Tribe of Florida during a special Seminole Tribute weekend with the unveiling of a new set of large, bronze sculptures depicting a Seminole family.

Why FSUs use of the Seminole Nations name and image is NOT racist!

"To further enhance learning opportunities, the tribe also helped design a course for FSU students — the "History of the Seminoles and Southeastern Tribes," which focuses on Seminole history and traditions.

"FSU considers it a great privilege to represent a group of people whose courage and spirit we admire and respect. Through the years, the administration has made it clear the university will not engage in any activity that does not have the approval of the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

"The Seminoles do not just give a stamp of approval from afar — they are full participants in the activities of the university. Their leaders have publicly stated that they feel the FSU family is part of their family."



So, maybe next time, before you automatically stop and get offended on behalf of someone else who you don't even know . . . maybe you should check out the facts instead of relying on assumptions. Every little bit of thought that we apply to ourselves, every instance of restraint . . . can make the world a kinder, gentler, and more pleasant place to live.

Why FSU's use of the Seminole Nation's name and image is NOT racist!
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Most Helpful Guys

  • lightbulb27
    may be to some.
    it's not racist to me, it honors to some extent their existence. if wasn't for sports, who would know about these cultures?

    Much better to use this as an education tool about the people.
    Like 2 People
    Is this still revelant?
  • worldscolide
    I fully agree with you... And honestly leftism is a disease... Its sickening.
    Like 2 People
    Is this still revelant?

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What Girls & Guys Said

  • Gwenhwyfar
    In that case I totally agree with you. But I still maintain that it was Native American activists in the Sixties and Seventies who began calling themselves Native Americans and who occupied Alcatraz to get justice for their peoples (or at least large casino revenues).
    Like 2 People
  • Nightroads
    I draw offense from the thought that the Seminole Nation was the only non-conquered Native American peoples. Lol. Not really. But as far as I know only one Alaskan Native people's was officially conqured, but that was the Russians.
    Like 1 Person
  • LikeALog
    To the politically correct some of the things that offends their emotions are racist. It doesn't matter what the history of it is, it's racist to them.
    Like 1 Person
  • OddBeMe
    If this is your biggest problem I feel sorry for you.
    Like 1 Person
    • No, I never suggested it was a big probem for me, and it isn't.

  • Daniela1982
    Many Indians and tribes have been honored over the years by using their images on consumer products, like cigar box labels. After all, you could smoke a cigar and dream of yourself smoking a peace pipe. I don't know if these labels would be considered racist. Why FSU's use of the Seminole Nation's name and image is NOT racist!Why FSU's use of the Seminole Nation's name and image is NOT racist!Why FSU's use of the Seminole Nation's name and image is NOT racist!Why FSU's use of the Seminole Nation's name and image is NOT racist!Why FSU's use of the Seminole Nation's name and image is NOT racist!
    Like 2 People
  • BillyBalls
    Doesn't FSU pay a stipend to the Seminole nation?

    And you are correct.

    Why did the Cleveland Indians change the name and discard the Chief Wahoo logo.

    What about the Atlanta Braves?
    • I am not aware of any licensing fee paid by the university to the Seminole Nation.

  • BCA6010
    You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who names a product, sports team, military helicopter, etc after a tribe who wasn't doing it to honor those people (usually as warriors and/or hardy survivalists). You'd be equally hard-pressed to find living members of those tribes who actually take offense to it. Funny enough, it always seems to be almost exclusively young white women who are screaming about these things, sometimes joined by lawyers who don't actually care and just want to make a buck. When somebody appropriates a name this way, you have to keep in mind that they are commiting to being affiliated with it, so again, nobody does that to be offensive or racist, and only ignorant losers follow that whistle.

    In fact, the military helicoptets component is especially tongue-in-cheek when you consider that the main attack role for rotary wing aviation is destroying tanks, which are widely considered the modern rendition of cavalry.
  • BubbaTech
    I am extremely touched. And proud. Please don't let haters stop your good work.
    Like 1 Person
  • notwoke
    Democrats appeal the dumbest among us to keep us divided, how else can they stay relevant?
    Like 1 Person
  • AviatorTom
    Well said!
    Like 1 Person
  • JesseJayNeak
    Never has been
    Like 1 Person