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Florida State University Seminole Symbol Files

 Collection — Box: 1817
Identifier: MSS 2008-023

Scope and Contents

This collection is compirsed primarily of newspaper clippings and correspondence, and documents the controversy from 1991 through 2005 over FSU's use of Native American names and symbols representing Renegade and Osceola, the Seminoles, and their use in athletic merchandise. There is correspondence between representatives of the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Florida Creek Indian Council with FSU reaffirming support for the Seminole name and Marching Chiefs over the use of the Seminole name, war chant, and "tomahawk chop" as well as letters between university officials about the President Dale Lick's Presidential Study Group on the Use of Seminole Symbolism and Tradition during the early 1990s. In addition, there are prints of early FSU Seminole football players, cheerleaders, and an FSU Homecoming Princess.

Frequently cited individuals include James Billie, Chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida; Michael Haney, an American Indian activist and elected official of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma; Dale W. Lick, FSU President, and James Anthony Paredes, an FSU faculty member and expert in contemporary North American Indians and applied anthropology. The collection is historically significant to researchers studying the controversial use of Native American peoples to represent sports teams.

Online Copies Available

Materials from this collection have been digitized and are available through the FSU Digital Library.


  • Created: 1949-2005
  • Other: Majority of material found in 1992-1995
  • Other: Date acquired: 07/00/2007

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to all researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

To request permission to quote, publish, broadcast or otherwise reproduce from the archives, please contact Heritage & University Archives, Florida State University Libraries, Tallahassee, Florida. Researchers must obtain separate permission from the copyright holders of material held within University Archives collections for which the institution does not hold copyright.

Biographical or Historical Information

According to Jim Jones in "FSU One Time!," in 1947 Florida State University selected the Seminoles as a nickname for its football and other athletics teams. The Seminole Tribe of Florida, formed in 1957, has since become an integral part of Florida's culture and history. Martee Wills, in her "Seminole History, A Pictorial History of Florida State University," notes that Renegade, an Appaloosa bay horse was the idea of Bill Durham, a Class of 1965 alumnus. Renegade first appeared on September 16, 1978, at the FSU-Oklahoma State football game in Doak Campbell Stadium. The rider, originally just called a warrior, came to be known at Osceola. Osceola's real name, according to the Seminole Tribune was "Asse Yahola." His rise to prominence as a Seminole Indian leader in the 1830s, his opposition to forced removal policies, and the controversial circumstances regarding his capture have contributed to Osceola's enduring legend. The Seminole Tribe in South Florida made an authentic outfit for the rider to wear. Subsequently, Osceola and Renegade became FSU's official symbols.

As this collection shows, in the past, the American Indian Movement and several American Indian tribes, such as the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, have protested the practice by many athletic teams of using Native American likenesses. The Seminole Tribe of Florida, however, has approved the portrayal of Osceola. In 2003, Max Osceola, Acting Chief of the Tribe said that "members of the Seminole Tribe do not consider it derogatory, demeaning, or insulting, and they don't look it as a mascot, but rather a representation of the Seminole Tribe." FSU has always enjoyed a close relationship with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, as shown by its respect and admiration for the Seminole people.


4.00 folders

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

Materials are arranged chronologically.

Custodial History

These materials were originally given to Joel Padgett by Beverly Spencer.

Source of Acquisition

Given by Joel Padgett, Seminole Boosters

Materials Specific Details

While FSU does not use the word "mascot" with regard to the Seminole people, archival, and other historical materials may include the usage of the word and may contain offensive imagery. This material is provided for research purposes as part of the historical record and not to condone any offensive language or imagery.

Processing Information

Processed by Burt Altman in October 2008.

Florida State University Seminole Symbol Files
Burt Altman. Revised: Sandra Varry
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 8/13/2020: The word "mascot" was replaced with "symbol" for all FSU authored text. Special note regarding potentially offensive language and imagery added.

Repository Details

Part of the FSU Special Collections & Archives Repository

116 Honors Way
PO Box 3062047
Tallahassee FL 32306-2047 US