Relationship with the Seminole Tribe of Florida
For almost 70 years, 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. 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.
Tribal members also travel to Tallahassee each year to crown the Homecoming chief and princess with authentic Seminole regalia.
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.
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.
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.