New Billboard for Florida State’s MBA Program

In indian mascots, random appropriation, stereotypes by Adrienne K.27 Comments


Florida State University (home of the “Seminoles”) has unveiled a new billboard for their MBA program. I always wonder how these types of things make it through so many layers of approval. Kirsten who sent it over said this has been their slogan for awhile, apparently. While we’re at it, have you seen the new commercial made by students in FSU’s College of Motion Picture Arts?:

Yeah. “A spirit roams these parts…a spirit of respect.” Respect for who, exactly? 

Programming note: I’m going to be trying something a bit new (or old, if you’re a long-time reader of the blog) where I share a lot of these “random appropriations” in between longer blog posts. I’m not going to go through and deconstruct all of them, it’s more to share the ubiquity of these images and how pervasive they are in our society. But I always welcome conversation in the comments!

(Thanks to Kirstin for the image, and everyone who sent me the commercial!)


  • Robert Miles
    • It’s true that Florida Seminoles (but not Seminoles living elsewhere) get a portion of the profits from FSU merchandise and are consulted on how they’re represented; there are good scholarships for Seminole kids who want to go to FSU; etc., etc. It’s still problematic, to say the least, to have a white frat boy put on war paint to dance around on the football field while a lot of (overwhelmingly white) fans sing “Scalp ’em, Seminoles!” I really don’t like that this is how my school is represented.

      • Robert Miles

        I am a reasonable person. The truth is far more harsh sometimes, some American Indian ancestors did scalp. So did European and African ancestors. The problem is how far scalping is associated with only one group of people. If the Florida Seminoles found it so problematic, they can complain, the Souix Nation has spoken for themselves. I’m not Seminole but they are a shared family and quite honestly, most of what FSU doesn’t offend me. It’s not Cartoonish and it’s mostly rooted in truth. I would prefer the mascot be of Hispanic (they are Indians too) or Native descent though.

        • I see what you’re saying, and yes, the Florida Seminoles certainly have the right to complain if they want to. I’m non-native, but I feel that as an FSU alumna I also have some right to complain. I had never heard the fight song until graduation (I’m not a sports person), and I was horrified. Sure, scalping was a real occurrence, but I find it objectionable to, as you put it, associate it with only one group of people. I also find it completely tasteless to sing about it so gleefully, and in the context of sporting events and other university functions. If someone wants to give a lecture on the practice of scalping during the Seminole wars, sure–it happened, and I wouldn’t want to romanticize history. Go into all the harsh truth you want. But it doesn’t need to be made into a cute little fight song. And I’m pretty sure Chief Osceola is usually some white boy in makeup. There would be a huge outcry if some school’s mascot were  in blackface; how is this different?

        • disqus_PvE4wA3Z4e

          The practice of scalping was started by the colonists, not the Natives. And it has been shown that it’s not rooted in truth at ALL.

  • dawn betts-green

    I’m in grad school at FSU, and the level of stupidity here is ridiculous. It’s always “but we’re honoring them.” Please…ugh

  • Nikki Blast

    I’ve read 90% of your posts and decided to pitch in as a non-Native. I’ve taken a course in poli sci about Indigenous peoples and loved it! I get what you’re trying to do with this blog and how you’re trying to educate others, but the truth of the matter is that non-Natives do not care. They don’t care and they won’t change. The majority of people who visit/read your blogs are Natives and that’s it. The outside world who are non-Natives just simply don’t give a shit what you have to say. Just my two cents.

    •  Bullshit.  Peddle your racist apologia elsewhere.

      • I’m a Black blogger who writes mostly about issues pertaining to Blacks, but I care about Native Americans and the horrific injustices they’ve suffered. 

    • dz

       Not true. I’m white and I care. I have all kind of non-native friends who care. Take your silencing bullshit elsewhere.

    • RachelB

       Please don’t presume to speak for me.

    • KBuffalo

      What a rotten thing to say. Aside from it being untrue, why put down someone who’s trying to effect positive change in society? I, too, am white. There are plenty of white people out there that care. Hey, glad you liked the sole class you took on indigenous peoples, though. It definitely makes you an expert on what everyone thinks, so it must have been worthwhile!

    • enigmagnetic

       I had no idea two cents could be so worthless.  I am also not an American Indian, but I am interested in and do care about issues that affect American Indians, so that puts your basic assertion/assumption to rest right away.  But thanks for speaking for all “non-Natives!”
      Is your point that if only American Indians care about the issues discussed here that it must be a futile and pointless blog?  If it’s only important to one group of people, who are not the majority, it must not actually be important or worthwhile?  Great point!  I’m sure no marginalized person has ever heard that before! /sarcasm

    • So you’ve tallied up everyone who looks at this blog and what demographics we all belong to? 

    • Robert Miles

      Actually a broader White audience and yes American Indians read it too.

    • Hi, white girl here, from England, no less, and I can care from across a big frikkin’ ocean. What’s your excuse?

    • disqus_PvE4wA3Z4e

      I’m Latina, and I care. Take your poli-sci course and shove it up your ass.

  • Huh…..geesh….yet we still will fight this and we will to the end of time.

  • Robert Miles

    I bet y’all didn’t watch the how to it was made video either? FSU works with the Seminole Nation in Florida. I’ll admit the war paint is over the top but it’s not like Europeans didn’t have any (see Woads etc). FYI, I shouldn’t have to say I’m an American Indian to make my point mean something, that’s racist. I’m Muscogee (Creek). Their mascot isn’t “the Seminoles” but is a real actual person.

  • dz

    High five for the near simul-post. :)

  • Ugh. Yes. I graduated from FSU and live in Tallahassee, and these signs are everywhere. I keep wondering how on earth the people in the ads, presumably professionals of some sort, could agree to be photographed like that. If they don’t care about cultural sensitivity, do they at least care about their business reputations? 

    Also, have you ever heard FSU’s fight song? Pretty atrocious:You got to fight, fight, fight, for FSU!You got to scalp ’em Seminoles!You got to win, win, win, win this game,and roll on down and make those goals!For FSU is on the warpath now,And when the battle ends she’s great!So fight, fight, fight for victory!,The Seminoles of Florida State!F-L-O-R-I-D-A S-T-A-T-EFlorida State, Florida State, Florida State!

  • Why don’t you ask the Seminole Tribe of Florida how they feel about the ads before you go on the warpath.

    •  *seriously*??? “Warpath”????  Go be racist somewhere else.

  • Lucas Maciel

    Is really hard think like a back to native culture? Imagine how impossible this kind of ad few years back? recognize this on native culture its amazing, but they true undestand? or justing using the symbology without at leat a minimum undestudment about every message that each symbol carry with them. The clothes, the horse, the colors, everything. 

    The native undestand that? The we centain way are coming back and creating a intersection? 

  • EGfromIA

    Adrienne, just checked in after not reading for a while and am catching up on the posts. Read this and the longer one with the FSU response letter. As always, your posts are superb and spot on. You have a way of making well-reasoned arguments to the points being raised by those you disagree with while being respectful and civil, and at the same time doing so passionately and NOT BACKING DOWN AN INCH!

    If it’s not too much OT, I would only add that the whole metaphor of business as “war” is problematic to begin with. Besides actual armed conflict with drones, bombs, soldiers, etc., we have “wars” on drugs and crime in which people get killed also. So, you are going to go to “war” in your business life, to scalp and kill and shoot and bomb your competitors or even coworkers who get in your way? This metaphor speaks loads about capitalism and our culture that I don’t even think FSU officials are conscious of. Thank you for these posts!

    FWIW, I am an old white guy, not that it should matter.

  • Eddie Dane

    Times Square is full of these exact same ads, except the women are wearing the warpaint to fight against breast cancer’s war against women.  What’s weird is that I walked past them this morning, but can’t find any news about them online.  Almost like they know it’ll be problematic and want to keep it under the radar.  

    Go get them, Adrienne.  Can’t wait to read your post.

  • 1of42

    I’m confused. Why does anyone other than members of the Seminole Tribe have any right to determine what’s problematic for those people? Although many different Native tribes faced similar genocide and erasure in America, is it not true that each tribe/nation constitute their own people and ought to be allowed to determine for themselves whether or not they consider cultural references to their heritage offensive? I get the idea that the writer of the blog is Native as well, but unless that means a member of the Seminoles, why does that confer any right to tell them by what they ought to be offended?