In 2005 the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) declared that mascots deemed offensive to Native Americans be removed or would not be included in post-season activity, which includes bowl games. With this new rule almost 30 collegiate athletic departments have changed their mascots, except for one. This exception was Florida State University’s mascot, Chief Osceola.
Chief Osceola and his Appaloosa horse, Renegade, have been representing FSU since 1978. In the history of FSU football, at the beginning of every game Chief Osceola and his horse storm the field leading the team. Traditions include, the Chief rides out to the center of the field and plants his flaming spear into the ground marking the beginning of the game.
What separates this tradition from others is that Chief Osceola is based off of one of the tribe’s war heroes from the second Seminole War against the United States in the 1830s. With the development of their mascot in 2005, FSU gained the full permission of the Seminole tribes allowing them to keep their mascot and traditions after the NCAA ruling. The Seminole tribe has played a large role in the formation of the FSU mascot. Not only did FSU receive the Seminole tribe’s blessing but they also helped design the Chiefs traditional dress. The Seminole tribe believes that the use of Chief Osceola is a sign of courage and respect for this Seminole leader.
Today, the development of an additional FSU mascot was put into affect to be more family-friendly. The animated character of an Appaloosa horse name Cimarron is now an additional FSU mascot next to the chief. FSU added Cimarron because university officials thought that the Chief Osceola might not be appropriate for certain audiences because of his actions at the beginning of each game.
While other FSU traditions such as the chant or “tomahawk chop” are questionable, the university has cultivated a strong relationship with the Seminole tribe and continue to honor their culture. Florida State’s mascot is a prime example of respecting another culture and honoring the traditions of Native Americans by working collectively to be conscious of all cultures and perspectives.