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Chief Osceola at Florida State

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Chief Osceola

Chief Osceola has been entertaining crowds at Florida State football games since 1978.

(Doug Benc/Getty Images)
In an age of political correctness, when most college football mascots and traditions linked in any way to Native American culture have been tossed aside, Florida State’s Chief Osceola endures.

The Chief and his Appaloosa horse, Renegade, have been fixtures at Seminole home games since 1978, thrilling Doak Campbell Stadium crowds by charging onto the field and planting a flaming spear at midfield before each game.

And though some Native American groups and others continue to call the Chief Osceola spectacle offensive, Florida State says the tradition has the backing of the Seminole Tribe from which it is derived. The Chief takes his name from one of the tribe's heroes—a key leader during the Second Seminole War against United States way back in the 1830s.

 

Origins

The Chief Osceola tradition was the brainchild of a Florida State sophomore named Bill Durham way back in 1962. Serving as a member of the Homecoming Committee that year, Durham was the first to propose that Florida State adopt a Seminole chief and horse as the school’s official mascot.

The idea, however, went nowhere.

It wasn’t until 15 years later, in 1977, that a young coach named Bobby Bowden came to Tallahassee to save a floundering football program.

Once again hopeful that his idea might gain traction, Durham took it upon himself to push the proposal forward. He approached the Seminole Tribe of Florida and won their support for the idea, then brought it before the university once more. This time, with Bowden’s support, Durham prevailed.

Osceola and Renegade made their debut performance against Oklahoma State in 1978.

 

Tribal Support

The Seminole Tribe has been heavily involved in the Osceola tradition. That support has played a big role in the tradition's survival.

The Tribe has offered its blessing to the University’s use of their lore, and according to Florida State, Seminole women even designed the Chief’s costume.

Durham, too, remains central to the tradition: His family is responsible for delivering the Appaloosa horses that play the role of Renegade.

 

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