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Why Florida State, Seminole Tribe stand behind the Seminoles nickname

As Washington's NFL team and the Cleveland Indians reconsider their names, FSU wants to educate people on the Seminoles.

As the NFL’s Washington Redskins and MLB’s Cleveland Indians consider changing their names amidst the nationwide conversations on racial equality and social justice, the Tampa Bay Times has heard from readers asking about a team closer to home.

What about the Florida State Seminoles?

We asked FSU and the Seminole Tribe of Florida if there were any discussions about changing FSU’s name, logo or chants.

“Right now, we really have nothing new to report about our continued solid partnership with the Seminole Tribe of Florida…” said Elizabeth Hirst, FSU’s chief of staff and a liaison to the tribe.

“Florida State University’s official use of the Seminole name is different from other names in that it does not perpetuate offensive racial stereotypes nor is it meant to diminish or trivialize any Native American or indigenous peoples. Instead, it is used with explicit tribal permission and involvement to honor and promote the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s unconquered history and spirit that persists to this day.”

Related: Florida State star Marvin Wilson was a tipping point in college athletes’ activism

When the NCAA reviewed its guidelines on Native American nicknames in 2005, the Seminoles’ tribal council unanimously approved a resolution supporting FSU’s use of the name.

The tribe collaborates with the university and athletic department. It approved the regalia used by Osceola, the student who plants the flaming spear at midfield, and consulted with FSU on its redesigned uniforms in 2014; the markings on the football team’s sleeves show the tribe’s symbols for arrow, man on horse and fire.

In announcing a special task force on anti-racism and racial equality earlier this week, FSU president John Thrasher said he wanted to create “an educational outreach program about FSU’s history and relationship with the Seminole Tribe of Florida.”

“The Tribe views the relationship as a multi-dimensional collaboration that provides meaningful educational opportunities and other positive outcomes,” tribe spokesman Gary Bitner said. “The Tribe also applauds President Thrasher’s recent announcement of a special task force on anti-racism and racial equality.”

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