Skip to content Skip to navigation

Stanford Mascot Timeline

Native Stanford students campaign for removal of Indian Mascot in early 1970s.

1930s

  • Stanford University's football coach, Pop Warner, is the first to use the Indian as a mascot for Stanford's athletic teams.

1970

  • On November 22, 1970, Stanford American Indian Organization (SAIO) members petition for removal of Stanford's Indian mascot—both the logo (as a “false image of the American Indian”) and the man, Timm Williams (whose live performances at sporting events were a “mockery of Indian religious practices.”)  Native American students position themselves outside the Stanford Stadium at the Big Game against the University of California with banners saying “Indians are people, not mascots.”

1971

  • The Stanford American Indian Organization hosts First Stanford Powwow to offset the negative image of the Indian mascot and to bring a diverse Native American presence to the campus.

1972

1987

  • SAIO unites with the BSU, MEChA, and AASA to form the Rainbow Coalition.  The Coalition, advocating for the needs of students of color at Stanford, presents a list of demands to the University.  Included in the demands are increased recruitment of students and faculty, improved curriculum and ethnic studies, a permanent ban of grapes—and a renewed commitment to discourage Indian mascot fanatics.

1993

  • The Stanford Review launches “Smoke Signals”—an editorial commentary topped with an image of “The Chief.”  Although the Native American Community at Stanford was quick to voice its disapproval of the hurtful caricature—that bore a striking resemblance to the Indian logo banned in 1972—the newspaper editor maintained that the use of the image was protected under the Freedom of Free Speech.  (The Native American Community believed that the image of “The Chief” was intended to remind readers of the old mascot and to keep hope alive that it would be reinstated.)  After months of debate and a change of editors, The Stanford Review discontinued the use of the caricature but kept the “Smoke Signals” commentary.

1996

  • The Stanford Bookstore agrees to remove offensive merchandise from shelves.  Native American students and alumni had been quick to speak out against shirts with an “Indian motif” as being reminiscent of the Stanford Indian mascot banned in 1972.

1997

  • A wannabe Stanford Tree proposes, as part of his campaign to get elected as the Stanford mascot, proposes to live in White Plaza, first as the former Indian mascot and then transform and emerge as the Stanford Tree.  SAIO (and friends) talk him out of it.
  • The Stanford Golf Club produces 300 shirts for sale—embroidered with the American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian Program logo.  Used without permission—and once again, reminiscent of the Stanford Indian mascot banned in 1972.  The Golf Club removes the merchandise from the shelves.
  • The Stanford Daily prints a story about a Woodside High School senior “running for Stanford admission.”  Part of the high school student's campaign is to “set up a 30-foot tipi in front of the (Stanford) stadium entrance...”  The Stanford Indian mascot was removed in 1972, yet the struggle goes on.