The evolution of EWU’s mascot

Take a look at how the Savage became the Eagle

By Erin Rebar, A&E and Features Editor

The eagle has not always been synonymous with EWU pride. In the early days of the university, then known first as the Cheney State Normal School and then later as Eastern Washington State College (EWSC), marched and cheered as the Savages.

“The struggle to change the mascot began in the early 1970s — a time when most other colleges had not yet begun to think about the ramifications of potentially offensive mascot names,” University Archivist Charles Mutschler said.

When first offered the chance to vote for a mascot change, students resisted heavily, Mutschler explained. Old articles of The Easterner are wrought with conflict, depicting clearly the intensity of student emotion.

According The Easterner, published in 1972, “Not all Indians and others involved feel that the Savage name is at all an Indian injustice. Little student care was revealed last Spring quarter as to whether or not we kept the Savage name until the Board of Trustees made it an issue.”

Students voted overwhelmingly to keep the Savage as their mascot, temporarily stalling the issue, Muschler stated.

Still, the trustees were concerned about the mascot and the image it portrayed of the school. Several letters were sent to various tribal councils in an attempt to glean whether or not the Native American population themselves found the Savages mascot offensive, Mutschler said.
While several councils wrote back with the reply that they were not bothered by the name, others responded that a change would be greatly appreciated.

Eventually, the Board of Trustees took it to a vote themselves and over ruled the student body.

According to a 2014 article in the Cheney Free Press, referring to the 1973 controversy, “The Associated Students held an election to choose a mascot and again, Savages won by a large majority. Students cast 950 votes to retain the mascot, 52 checked “Braves” while “Appaloosa” earned 39 votes.”

The trustees refused to accept the student vote, and in the summer of 1973 the mascot for Eastern Washington State College was officially changed to the Eagles.

“I think the trustees deserve a lot of credit for [the change],” said Mutschler. “They were way ahead of the game. A lot of people were like, ‘oh, what do we care,’ at that time.”

According to Mutschler, the eagle mascot has been revised many times.

“For the first twenty years, there were all sorts of different eagles,” Mutschler said.

These days, many students are not even aware of the change. Morgan Music, a senior music education major did not know that know that her school mascot had once been different, but she believes that the choice to change was probably a good one.

“When you think of ‘Savage,’ you think of something not good, but when you think of an eagle, it’s cool,” Music said.

Regardless of his controversial past, Swoop seems to be popular among EWUs contemporary students.

“He’s awesome,” said Music. “He seems to get everyone involved in the crowd. He’s always moving around the whole entire stadium during the game, he’s a every event. He gets everyone pumped.”