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Image of FSU mascot roils South Florida water management board meeting

@jenstaletovich

He wasn’t on the agenda, but Chief Osceola briefly disrupted this month’s meeting of the South Florida Water Management District’s governing board.

As part of a report on water conditions to the Gator-dominated board, a division director, also a Gator, included an image of the Florida State University mascot as a farewell gesture to board member Tim Sergeant, an FSU alum whose term is ending.

“I know that was painful for you, Terrie. But I do appreciate that. Thank you,” Sergeant said to Water Resources Division Director Terrie Bates.

But Miccosukee tribe member Houston Cypress, who was a part of a large crowd attending the meeting in support of a long-anticipated central Everglades restoration plan, was not so thankful.

While the Seminole Tribe of Florida has signed an agreement with FSU supporting the mascot, the mascot is still widely condemned as a minstrel caricature of the chief, who fiercely opposed the Seminole nation’s surrender to the government. An earlier mascot retired in the 1970s had been named Sammy Seminole.

“I want to admonish the board for condoning the use of the racist imagery earlier with the display of the FSU mascot,” Cypress said. “Once again I admonish you.”

Board chairman Dan O’Keefe thanked Cypress for his comments, then moved on to the next speaker without responding to the condemnation.

--JENNY STALETOVICH

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