seminoles

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Interest convergence, FSU, and the Seminole tribe of Florida.

By Adrienne Keene, PhD

Cross-posted at Native Appropriations.

Florida State has been the “Seminoles” since 1947, and have had a “relationship” with the Seminole Tribe of Florida for many years, but it was solidified more recently. In 2005, the NCAA passed a resolution, calling Native American Mascots “hostile and abusive,” and prohibiting schools with these mascots from hosting post-season events. The Seminole Tribe of Florida then officially gave their permission to use Osceola as the mascot, letting FSU get a waiver from the NCAA rule.

Disclaimer, and a big one — I am not Seminole, and I don’t want to speak for the tribe. I am offering my interpretation and perspective, but it’s just mine. I am going to be up front and say that I don’t agree with the choice to give the university permission to mock Native culture (see the billboard and video I posted earlier), and I don’t find a “stoic” dude in a wig and redface throwing a flaming spear“honoring” (see photo above), and I definitely don’t think that the “war chant” is respectful in any way. In fact I find it quite “hostile and abusive.”

I do want to put the decision of the tribe into context, however. From what I understand, prior to the formalized relationship with the tribe in the 1970′s, the image of the university was not Osceola (who is a real person, in case you didn’t know. Though the image is the profile of a white faculty member), but a stereotypical mis-mash named “Sammy Seminole” who was accompanied by “Chief Fullabull,” both of whom wore cartoonish and stereotypical outfits and clowned around at games. Trying to be more “sensitive” they changed “Fullabull” to “Chief Wampumstompum.” I’m not kidding. Osceola and Renegade (the horse) were introduced in the late 70′s.

So, by entering into a relationship with the university, the mascot now represents an actual Seminole figure, and wears (close to) traditional Seminole regalia, made by tribal members. In addition to control and “collaboration” over how the image is used and portrayed, I’ve heard the tribe gets a cut of the merchandising profits, which I’m sure is no small amount of money. The president of the university also established full scholarships for Seminole students (though only 8 Seminole students have graduated in the history of the school), a Seminole color guard brings in the flag at commencement, and the tribe was recently honored at homecoming. The Seminole of FL are also one of the most successful gaming tribes in the US, and my personal opinion is that keeping the state happy on the FSU front can only be good for relations around gaming contracts.

In summary, while the mascot is far from being respectful in my opinion, at least the tribe is gaining both economic and social benefits from engaging in this relationship. At least, at the games, as the student section is tomahawk chopping and yelling “scalp ‘em”, they can look down at the field and see a real Seminole every once and awhile to counter the image of Osceola. But is it perfect? Of course not. In a lot of ways it is similar to Derrick Bell’s theory of Interest Convergence — the idea that whites will only consent to racial progress when it benefits them directly — but turned around. The tribe is consenting to this, because they benefit directly. The interests of the two parties converge.

But the hard thing about FSU is that it always gives fodder to the mascot defenders. “But the Seminole approve of Florida State! They don’t care!” Hopefully I’ve made a bit of a case as to why they’ve consented to have their image used, but I also want to point out that just because one faction of a marginalized group believes one thing, it doesn’t mean that everyone feels that way. Can you imagine if we expected all white folks to feel the same about a controversial issue… like gun control, for example? Not gonna happen. I also think that it ties back into the dilemma I’ve brought up again and again — is it better to be completely invisible as Native people, or be misrepresented? In the case of the Seminole tribe of Florida, they took the step to at least try and gain some control and power over how their people and community are represented.

For more, check out this awesome resource pulled together by Rob Schmidt of Blue Corn Comics/Newspaper Rock — offers more history, counter-arguments, quotes from news articles and Native scholars, and more: Why FSU’s Seminoles aren’t ok.

Adrienne Keene is a Cherokee doctoral candidate at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, where she studies access to higher education for Native students.  She blogs about cultural appropriation at Native Appropriations.  You can follow her on Twitter andFacebook.

Join the Pride Student Union in just a few days for a much needed conversation. Now that same-sex marriage is legal across the United states, what’s next?

This intersectional panel discussion featuring LGBTQ+ thought leaders will delve into the issues that still affect our communities. Beyond Marriage will give you a chance to hear about and discuss issues such as trans equality, workplace discrimination, immigrant rights, and LGBTQ healthcare.

We’ve come a long way, but we have so much to go. Join us Tuesday. September 22nd at 7PM in the Florida Ballroom.


https://www.facebook.com/events/1516258795331650/

Portrait of a Seminole chief posing with family members in front of their house near Fort Clark, Texas, c. 1875. By Henry A. Doerr. Animated stereoview.

Source.

youtube

(via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdImWoKIf1c)

I know how much Tumblr loves powerful women so here’s a short film surrounding just that! Watch Ravish Me Red!

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The Florida State Women’s Soccer Team earned their spot in their 5th straight College Cup by beating Texas A&M 5-0 in the Quarterfinals. 

I’ve had the pleasure of being president of the supporters group for the team this season and I’ve gotten to know the coaching staff and the players.

They are a true team, they are beyond adorable, incredibly talented, fun, hardworking, disciplined, determined, confident and everything I could ever ask for in a team. I have so much love for this group of amazing women. 

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#18 Florida State Seminoles

On the Field, FSU keeps winning in a conference that they kind of own.  Off the field… they might be starting to clean up their ugly ugly act.

Why So High?

This is actually a fair question.  After finishing a miserable 22nd in both of Sagarin’s point based rankings and a miserable 15th in mine, and with a lot of sign pointing down, FSU could be worse.  But FSU has tons of talent, tons of recent success and a winnable conference.  They could have a great year.

Why So Low?

They rank a measly #19 in my preseason power rankings.  They were higher… but then domestic abuse hit their backfield once again and this time it seems like its gonna ruin things for them.  Louisville looks stronger and if Clemson can keep a healthy QB… they might be better too.  The schedule is also tough facing Florida, Georgia Tech, and Miami out of division.

Best Case Scenario:

They are not a national title contender, lets make that clear.  But Golson could flourish if he calms down and his offensive line holds.  A clicking Golson and a reloaded FSU defense could be a worthy participant in a New Year’s Bowl with the chance to finish as strong as 13-1.  But I think FSU can’t make the playoff with a loss.

Worst Case Scenario:

5 losable games but its hard to picture them losing all 5.  8-5 is probably the worst this team could do.  Probably.

Reasonable Expectation:

Florida State still plays in the ACC and Florida still looks to be an injured giant so 10-3 is a very reaonable thing for a Florida State fan to hope to see their team accomplish.