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A Welcome Response to NCAA 'Seminole' Reversal

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

The NCAA has changed its mind about the Florida State University Seminoles. The college governing body had included the Seminoles on a list of Indian nicknames that would be banned from post-season play. Most of the names on that list remain banned, but Florida State appealed, getting support from politicians and even the Florida Seminole tribe. The second of our two commentaries on this issue comes from a member of that tribe, Tina Osceola.

TINA OSCEOLA:

I am proud to share my culture and heritage with Florida State University students, alumni and fans, and I could not be more pleased with the NCAA's latest decision to allow FSU and my tribe to continue our tradition of sharing.

The NCAA's initial characterization of FSU's use of our tribe's symbol and images as hostile and abusive was made without regard for our opinion and input. To me, that disregard for our tribal government was far more insulting that the mascot issue.

I cannot describe the feeling that I get when I stand among a crowd of FSU fans cheering for their mascot, Osceola. Osceola was one of the most cunning Seminole war leaders. He successfully led our people through fierce battles and he had the foresight to violently reject a proposed treaty with the US government by stabbing his knife through its center, leaving an indelible image of mistrust.

FSU has consulted with our tribe about Osceola's costume, as well as other symbols. In fact, our tribe plans on adding to the authenticity of Osceola's costume by providing replicas of items the real Osceola would have worn in the 1830s.

Evidently, the NCAA now understands that FSU's use of Osceola as a mascot brings the real Osceola spirit to life. Even though it's during a sporting event, what other event in our society would provide us the opportunity to teach people about our culture and heritage? We are Florida Seminoles. We are the unconquered. We are proud. That is our story.

Today, the Seminole tribe of Florida has an enrollment of more than 3,000 members. The tribal council is our legislature and it voted unanimously to allow Florida State University to use the Seminole name and symbols. The NCAA has made a responsible decision to walk in unison with our nation's tribes and honor specific tribes' requests while at the same time enforcing its ban on mascots whose actions, dress or names truly are hostile and abusive. Our tribe has never supported the exploitation of other tribal symbols and images. We stand in support of injured tribes and in support of the NCAA for daring to do the right thing.

INSKEEP: That commentary comes from Tina Osceola, a member of the Seminole tribe of Florida and executive director of the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki museum for Seminole history and culture.

This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tina Osceola