The history of Midwestern will always include the Indians

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The history of Midwestern will always include the Indians

MSU Indian Mascot, 1988

MSU Indian Mascot, 1988

MSU Indian Mascot, 1988

MSU Indian Mascot, 1988

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For more than 12 years, Midwestern State University has been the Mustangs. Students hold great pride in wearing maroon and gold and supporting the mascot, Maverick.

“I can’t imagine wearing anything other than maroon and gold, while cheering on the Mustangs,” Brenna Lambert, radiology sophomore, said.

Before 2006, students didn’t see Maverick the mascot used today. Anyone who visited or knew someone who attended Midwestern before the birth of Maverick, would know the mascot as the Indians. 

Records found in The History of Midwestern State University : A Collection of Essays and Interviews, in the intercollegiate athletics section, dates the mascot “Indians” back to 1922, when the school was Wichita Falls Junior College.

In the foreword of the intercollegiate athletics, the authors say how the school name has changed more than once, “Wichita Falls Junior College (1922-36), Hardin Junior College (1936-46), Hardin College (1946-50), Midwestern University (1950-61)… Midwestern State University came into being when the university became a state supported institution in 1961.” 

Through-out these various name changes, the mascot remained Indians, until the NCAA banned the use of American Indian mascots. They deemed them to be “hostile or abusive” in 2005, and sent out a list of colleges that went against new rules. When Midwestern officials saw MSU was one of the 18 colleges on the NCAA’s list, they tried to appeal by sending a report. Stating how the University was blessed by the Kiowa tribe, and never represented the Indians in a negative manner. Still, the appeal was denied.

According to the 2006 Wai-Kun yearbook, Jesse Rogers, university president from 2001-2015, formed a 14-member committee to come up with a new mascot.

“Over 180 different suggestions were submitted to the committee, everything from Armadillos to Jedi Knights. In what was considered by many students to be the most controversial decision of the year, the mascot was changed to Mustangs,” Matthew Park, 2006 Wai-Kun identity crisis page author and director of student activities, said.

Maverick the Mustang at Saturday’s Homecoming game.
Photo by Hanwool Lee

The transition of the mascot from Indians to Mustangs was not easy. In the Nov. 16, 2005 Wichitan there is an interchange in the use of Indians and Mustangs on the sports page. 

Even in the Feb. 1, 2006 Wichitan, reporter Ashley Bear stated, “Carl Nichols, announcer as MSU ball games and academic coordinator of MSU’s athletic department, told the Times Record News that although he will go along with the new mascot because he is apart of the staff, he will use the name as little as possible.”

Although, that was not the case for the first Mustang mascots. According to interviews done in 2006 by Adrian McCandless, 2006 Wichitan photo editor, two of the mascots expressed how it was an exciting time for them.

Eddie Douglas IV said, “I was excited to put it on… this is the first time I’ve ever done something like this, and I love doing new things so that adrenaline was already there.”

Soozie Amdor, in the 2006 interview, said, “There is nothing better than a little kid running up to you for a big Mustang hug.”

To get students hooked on the new Mustang mascot, MSU’s staff booked Richard Hight, VisualMPACT artist, to create large depicting mustangs with paint. Students were able to watch as Hight turned a blank canvas into one-of-a-kind Mustangs. In Jason York’s 2006 article over the event he stated, “Many students passing through the student center stopped to watch the artist work… The predominant word from students was ‘wow’.” Two of these paintings are still visible on campus, one in the Student Center, and the other in the Coliseum. 

First Mustang mascot’s, Calvin Pressley, Soozie Amador, Eddie Douglas IV and Jerrica Brown (from left to right) pose with a horse at the Turtle Creek Stables Oct. 30, 2006. Photo by Adrian McCandless.

With a new mascot, comes the need for a new name. Naming the new Mustang mascot was a big deal for everyone on campus. Park had suggestion boxes put out for anyone to enter what they though the name should be. From there, a student committee gave a proposal of the top three Mustang names to the Student Government Association to send to the administrators. After deciding on Maverick the Mustang, they waited a year to announce his name to everyone at his first birthday on Homecoming Weekend 2007. Every year since then, students get together to celebrate Maverick’s birthday. It is an important part of Homecoming Week for everyone on campus.

For 83 years we were the Indians, and having our mascot be Mustangs was and still is a representation of our region and a link to the Indian culture. The history of Midwestern will always include the Indians. It is who we are, and we show it through our meeting rooms, statues, street names, and dorms.

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