Student Artist, Kelli Owen 1998
A national controversy has brewed for decades over the use of Native American mascots by athletic teams. Miami University was one of the many schools that chose to change its Native American image and nickname in the midst of this controversy. Much like many other places where similar controversies arose, emotions ran high on this issue and it was a long, arduous 25-year process that led to the change from Miami Redskins to Miami Redhawks. Over a century of time passed from the start of Miami’s first football game in 1888 until the name change occurred in 1997-98. How did an athletic nickname and figure develop and become entrenched as one of the college’s many traditions? Was it intentional? Who determined or influenced the path it took? How were the Miami Indians involved? When did it become a controversy at Miami and how was it handled?
Early history of the mascot presents details of when Indian images or references were present in Miami University publications or at campus events, dating as far back as the 1860s. The motivation for including these things, especially before the 1930s, appears to be a random rather than an intentional or connected effort. By the 1930s, the effort became more intentional and grew over time.
Much of this material has been published in a similar and shortened form in the most recent Miami University history book.
Miami University 1809-2009: Bicentennial Perspectives, Curtis W. Ellison, Editor.
Ohio University Press in association with Miami University, Athens, OH, 2009.