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Seminole mascot foe still defiant
By BRIAN LANDMAN
Published September 5, 2005
TALLAHASSEE - David Narcomey won't be tuning into tonight's Florida State-Miami game, not wanting to take the chance that ABC might show Chief Osceola riding Renegade and planting a flaming spear.
"I don't want to be nauseated," he said in a recent telephone interview.
Narcomey, a member of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma's general council, became a central figure in the NCAA's decision both to put FSU on a list of schools that used "hostile and abusive" American Indian mascots, nicknames and imagery, then to remove it.
He wrote two letters to the NCAA in June saying his tribe's 14,000 members were adamantly opposed to FSU and any school with such mascots and would vote on a resolution saying as much.
But he wasn't empowered to speak on behalf of the Oklahoma Seminoles, and his resolution failed 18-2. Much to its embarrassment, the NCAA never checked on either.
"I don't know how or where things got mixed up. We went on what we were provided," said Robert Vowels Jr., chairman of the NCAA committee that made the recommendations regarding American Indian mascots. "The information we received we thought was pretty credible."
Facing new facts and criticism from FSU officials and fans, politicians including Gov. Jeb Bush and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the NCAA changed course. It said if a school has a formal relationship with a namesake tribe, the NCAA would honor the tribe's sovereignty to decide what's in its best interest. That criterion has allowed FSU, Utah (the Utes) and Central Michigan (the Chippewas) to escape sanctions.
"I thought it was a wonderful first step, but unfortunately (the NCAA) caved in to the pressure," Narcomey said.
He defended his letters, insisting he never said he was speaking for the tribe, although he constantly wrote, "We." As for his resolution, he said timing prevented its passage in mid July. A month earlier, the Seminoles in Florida passed a resolution that, for the first time, wholeheartedly endorsed the way FSU portrayed them.
"When my resolution came up, if we had voted for it, then it would have been perceived that we're fighting our brothers and sisters and cousins in Florida," he said. "We didn't want that."
For him, the mascot issue at FSU isn't over.
"It's much bigger than one tribe," said Narcomey, who has protested at some FSU games. "Really, this is just as important as poverty, as alcoholism, as tribal sovereignty. They (the Florida Seminoles) don't see it. ... As professionals, as tribal entities, as long as we're being perpetuated as mascots we cannot be taken seriously in the political arenas because we'll be perceived as, "Oh, you're that FSU mascot."'