The Indian on Dartmouth Football Programs



For a long time, Native American’s were depicted on the covers of Ivy League football program when teams played against Dartmouth. The illustration above is from a Princeton-Dartmouth game in 1949. The program below is from a Columbia-Dartmouth game in 1949. Although most are funny and were meant to poke fun at the Dartmouth fans, we can see where Native Americans can take offense to the poor depictions of Indians.


The following was taken from Dartmouth’s website:

The nickname for Dartmouth’s athletics teams is “The Big Green,” but the College has never had an official mascot. Contrary to what some believe, the Indian was never Dartmouth’s official mascot. The use of the Indian, in conjunction with Dartmouth’s athletic teams, dated back to the 1920s. It is difficult to determine exactly why, but some Boston sportswriters and cartoonists began to refer to Dartmouth’s teams as the Indians prior to the 1922 football game with Harvard. The use of the “Indian” nickname remained in use informally and unofficially until the early 1970s. In 1974, Dartmouth’s Board of Trustees issued a statement calling for an end to the use of the Indian as a mascot.”


 Our friend Ben Franklin hits the Dartmouth Indian in the derriere with an arrow in this 1961 program:


Harvard-Dartmouth 1942:


Even into the late 60s, the Indian was a continued motif on Dartmouth programs. The one below is a Dartmouth program and not one published by a rival team. This makes the University’s assertion that it didn’t endorse the use of the Indian a bit disingenuous.



Editorials in The Dartmouth Review have argued the opposite, that the school should not have abandoned the Indian as its mascot – since it  was part of its history: “Our Indian representations have not been cartoonish slurs but serious, noble portraits of serious, noble warriors. Our connection with the Indian has not been arbitrary stereotype but a reference to an important historical fact — Dartmouth, of course, was originally conceived as a school for educating American Indians”.


In 1984 The Dartmouth Review asked more than 200 chiefs of Indian tribes across the country whether or not they thought the Indian symbol offensive. By a margin of more than 10-to-1, these chiefs said that Dartmouth’s Indian symbol did not offend them; many said it was a symbol of Indian pride.

We’re not going to take sides in the debate, simply, we point out that some of the Dartmouth covers are the most interesting and original of all the Ivy League football programs.



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