Saltine Warrior, 1951

Luise Meyers Kaish, Saltine Warrior, 1951

bronze
120 inches high
Gift of Class of 1951
SUAC 1951.001

Luise Kaish designed this version of the original mascot for Syracuse University athletic teams in early 1950.  The Saltine Warrior embodied those qualities that students, alumni, and fans have come to expect from their athletic teams- strength, endurance, and agility.

The Saltine Warrior, an Indian figure named Big Chief Bill Orange, was born in a hoax published in The Syracuse Orange Peel, October 1931.  The remains of this 16th century Onondagan chief were supposedly found in the excavations near Steele Hall, the relocation site for the women’s gymnasium in 1928.

In the mid-1950’s, the father of a Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity brother owned a cheerleading camp. He made a Saltine Warrior costume for his son to wear at SU football games. Thus began a nearly forty-year tradition of Lambda Chi brothers serving as SU’s mascot.

In 1951 the Senior Class commissioned a statue of the Saltine Warrior to be placed near the “discovery site.”  Students of Ivan Mestrovic, a renown Croatian sculptor and SU faculty member, competed for the honor.  The winner was Luise Kaish who arranged for a member of the Onondaga Nation to pose for her statue.  The Saltine Warrior, cast in bronze, was moved several times, at last finding a resting place in front of the main staircase to Carnegie Library.

In 1978 Syracuse University officials decided to stop the tradition of dressing a student in Native American costume but it took several more years to completely drop the figure as the University mascot.

Gift of the Class of 1951.