Arizona State University
Jim Warne and his mother Beverly react to the Jumbotron video of Warne's career at an alumni reunion during the halftime at the Arizona State University football game in Tempe, Arizona.

Why Jim Warne Will Be Pressing Mute Button During Tonight’s BCS Game

Rodney Harwood

When you see it coming -- the tomahawk chop, the chant, the white guy riding in wearing war paint and a ceremonial headdress, waving a war lance – don’t you wish you could close your eyes and ears?

With the excitement surrounding tonight’s BCS National Championship game between the Florida State University Seminoles and the Auburn University Tigers, most of mainstream America will once again fail to see the “diss” that Florida State fans have been dishing out to Native Americans for generations.

Indian Country might have to follow former Arizona State University star Jim Warne’s lead: Keep the remote handy and press mute when appropriate.

The NFL Alumni member and inductee into the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame knows the Seminole Tribe has negotiated with the State of Florida and the university over rights to use the name and imagery, but that doesn’t make the chop or the chant any less derogatory. Native Americans have opposed FSU fans’ behavior for years.

“I’ll be watching the national championship on Monday,” said Warne, who played left tackle for Arizona State University, and helped to pave the way for the Sun Devils’ victory over the Jim Harbaugh-led Michigan Wolverines in the 1987 Rose Bowl.

Warne (76) blocks for Sun Devil quarterback Jeff Van Raaphorst during the 1987 Rose Bowl. (Arizona State University)

“The Seminole Nation negotiated with the state of Florida and made agreements with the university to use their name. But that doesn’t stop the Auburn Tiger fans from saying ‘Kill the Seminoles!’,” Warne told ICTMN. “I’ll have to mute the national championship a lot because it just gets tiring with people exploiting the name and the mascot. Americans feel it’s acceptable to mock Indian people through that forum and it would not be allowed for other ethnic groups.”

Warne was called “Chief” by his teammates throughout his Arizona State playing days. Although the nickname is derogatory in nature, he always knew his teammates were coming from a place of respect.

“I didn’t let just anybody call me that,” he said. “We had a Hispanic player we called Pancho. We were okay with the nicknames in the locker room, but outside of the locker room, it wasn’t okay.”

He took his son Ryan to a San Diego State football game and they saw an “Aztecs” mascot.

“He said, ‘Dad, there’s an Aztec.’ And I said, ‘No,son, that’s a white guy doing a very bad imitation of an Aztec. I’m sitting there wanting to be a fan and having to explain cultural inappropriateness [to my son].”

Sports Illustrated did a story on Warne in 1991 entitled “Urban Indian.” He was finishing up his career in NFL Europe when a writer noticed his long flowing locks hanging well past his shoulder pads.“There was this story how there was a blond-haired Indian playing in NFL Europe.” which was totally erroneous,” Warne said. “The article was all done by phone and the story was saying ‘his waist-length hair.’ I’m like - I never had waist-length hair. [Sports Illustrated] sent me to New York City to get the photo done. At the time, I was still single and I wanted to look good, but they wanted the mean, stoic Indian, because that’s what America expects.”

Native Americans have been dealing with stereotypes, and inappropriate labels for centuries. Warne hopes that that will soon change.

“I don’t see anybody from other communities protesting that they’re not mascots. Why don’t we have the Blackskins, Whiteskins, Brownskins and Yellowskins included? Black Elk -- after the Wounded Knee massacre -- said it was going to take seven generations to heal the circle. I’m a firm believer that one of those from that generation will be president of this United States. And, that’s my dream.”



You need to be logged in in order to post comments
Please use the log in option at the bottom of this page



Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
This is what happens when you "sell out." (from the article) “The Seminole Nation negotiated with the state of Florida and made agreements with the university to use their name." In this instance, and in spite of the fact that I also feel the fans are ignorant of how derogitory their actions are, I'm going to have to side with the University. I work in the public schools in southern NM and our rivalry with an across-town high school made the #2 rivalry in the nation in USA Today's high school football rivalries. The competition here is fierce and intense (we won the state championship with a blocked field goal) and even divides friends and family. As you might imagine the events in both schools the week leading up to the big game (a crowd of 35,000 attended in Aggie Memorial Stadium last November) feature a "Kill the Trojans" day or a "Bash the Bulldawgs" day, but for the most part it's just sports posturing. There aren't many Trojans left to offend, but animal rights activists might rightly be concerned over the image of bashing a bulldog. I guess the point I'm trying to make is that sports "lingo" often includes heinous acts that few people take seriously. Of course the difference here is a living, thriving, Native group being subjected to all the verbal posturing. Kill the Seminoles to me is as offensive as Kill the Indians, Kill the Negros, Kill the Chinese or any other ethnic/cultural group. Again, the difference is, Indians, African-Americans, Chinese or any other ethnic groups DID NOT enter into a deal with an institution for use of their name for a sports team. As sad as it is we ALL have to live with the choices we make. As bad as I feel for those Seminole who this WILL hurt ( the younger generations) a decision was made for profit and ALL Seminole will have to sleep in the bed made for them. In other words, you can't sell your land to an oil company then bitch when you end up living next door to a gas station.