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florida state football field
florida state football field
Original photo by Lauren Sparling

How the Seminole Tribe of Florida Impacts Our Homecoming Traditions

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

Every Florida State University (FSU) fan knows the thrill of Chief Osceola and Renegade bounding out onto the field before kickoff at every home football game and how him throwing that flaming spear sets off the crowd. FSU students also proudly call themselves Seminoles and wear a myriad of designs bearing Osceola’s image. FSU has a unique relationship with the Seminole Tribe of Florida that enables the school to use these symbols when the vast majority of sports teams have had to move away from Native American imagery and references. Perhaps the best time to see the special place that the Seminole Tribe of Florida holds in the culture of FSU is during the annual Homecoming week festivities.

Many students here at Florida State are oblivious to the history engrained in our school. You may not have even thought about what being able to call yourself a Seminole really means. Our symbol of unconquered spirit is the great Chief Osceola and his trusty Appaloosa steed Renegade. For more than 70 years, this school has had the privilege of being affiliated with the Seminole Tribe of Florida based on a relationship of mutual support and respect. The Seminoles even publicly declared their support for our university in 2005.

However, it was made clear by the Seminoles themselves that this support can and will be removed if they determine FSU ever acts inappropriately. For this reason, FSU and its students must be careful not to behave in ways that could perpetuate offensive stereotypes or trivialize any Native American or indigenous people. Efforts are made to ensure that FSU traditions keep with Seminole culture. For example, the Sioux headdress, which was once used to crown the Homecoming king, has been discontinued. Another more recent change is the renaming of the festivities the night before the Homecoming game from the Pow Wow to Homecoming Live. Calling yourself a ‘Nole’ is quite the privilege; do not take it lightly and do not abuse it. After all, why would you want to offend those who graciously allowed us to include ourselves in their culture?

Understanding the delicate nature of our relationship with the Seminole Tribe of Florida creates memorable moments when they participate in the university’s most meaningful events. For example, tribal royalty, including the Miss Florida Seminole princesses and other members of the tribe, visit Tallahassee every year to participate in Homecoming festivities. They appear in the Homecoming parade and the crowning of the Homecoming chief and princess with authentic Seminole regalia during half-time at the football game. Members of the tribe also march in each university commencement ceremony as the color guard in their vibrant Seminole dress.

There are many other things the Seminole Tribe does in conjunction with Florida State as well, but I find it especially notable, and a special privilege to see them participate in such prominent events. For those Noles who would like to learn more about the culture and history of our namesake, FSU offers an elective class called “The Seminoles and the Southeastern Indians,” which was created with the input of the Seminole Tribe of Florida and serves as another great example of the unique bond we share.

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New Her Campus member at FSU! Excited to write with intent :)