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Welcome ago Hawk fans! some of you room perusing your an initial ever worry of little Village. How’s it feel? nice great? go Hawks. However perhaps you, and even previous readers, may wonder: What in the world is a football tower doing in mine town’s, like, indy-alt-rag? that a same question. Ns guess it’s about acknowledging sport as a common ground, a place where civilization of every ilk have the right to come in addition to a singleness that purpose: beer. And additionally cheering. Anyone loves come cheer! Well, everyone at my workdesk at least.

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So, Hawkeyes, that we can kick off the 2012 season for sure in our hawk identity, let’s reflect on what it means to be a Hawkeye. Literally. Ns mean, “Hawks,” I acquire that. The bird that prey. The talons. The vicious predator of field mice and also ground squirrels. I’m not certain I deserve to imagine a Hawk acquisition on a Wildcat and also winning, but no doubt a hawk is fierce. But Hawkeye? Is the the eyeball that a Hawk? The literal I? Is this supposed to it is in a metaphor? Am ns the eye? We know it strikes fear in the heart of “Spartans” and “Wolverines,” however what is a Hawkeye?

To resolve my confusion, i asked mary Bennett at the State Historical society of Iowa and also David McCartney at The university of Iowa save on computer to take me back to the beginning. Cliffnotes: The human being of our state to be nicknamed “Hawkeyes” earlier in the late 1830s, and also they can have excellent a whole lot worse.


Most historians agree the frontier lawyer David Rorer, supported by his cohort, publisher James Edwards, space the guys responsible for introducing the Hawkeye name. In the mid-1830s, Iowa to be still recognize its identity, a region on the roadway to most likely statehood. Rorer, a very educated guy of letters, expressed involved that territorial residents were in risk of falling food to a nickname similar to the of our neighbors, the Missouri “Pukers” and also the Illinois “Suckers.” (Look it up!) as result of a lack of barbers in the area, there were rumblings our unkempt citizens would be deemed “the Hairy Nation.” Yikes.


The literature Connection:

Writers played a major role in help us end up being the Hawkeyes. Coincidence? Or just more proof that they might also designate us a UNESCO State that Literature? Booyah!• The name “Hawkeye” to be partially motivated by the personality Hawkeye in James Fenimore Cooper’s The last of the Mohicans.• Chief black color Hawk to be the an initial Native American to have hisbiography published.• The Hawkeye name was adopted into basic use after a series of anonymous letter praising the character of the “Hawkeye” nation was very first published in the Dubuque and also Davenport newspapers.• In renaming the Burlington newspaper The Hawk-Eye, publisher James Edwards additional popularized the nickname, causing its eventual adoption by The college of Iowa sports teams.


Rorer’s inspiration for the name Hawkeyes was twofold. Firstly, as an avid reader, there could be no concern that the was familiar with the decade’s most well-known work the fiction, James Fenimore Cooper’s The critical of the Mohicans. Among the novel’s main characters was a male who walk by the name of Hawkeye. Hawkeye was defined by the native American hero of the novel, Uncas, as “a just man, and the friend of the Delawares … We call him Hawkeye … for his sight never ever fails.”

Sweet! Unfailing sight! much like James Vandenberg’s precision v bow and also arrow, and the spot-on accuracy that his bullet-like throwing arm, this man Hawkeye had a median vision i m sorry led the to sure victory. Therefore far, therefore good.

But there’s another, much more powerful eagle ever-present in Iowa history, one that Rorer couldn’t ignore: Chief black color Hawk. At the time of Rorer’s naming, Chief black Hawk was a commemorated personage throughout the Iowa Territory. A famous Native American warrior, black Hawk to be then living the end his retirement in the Iowa territories, reconciled with the next-door neighbors he had previously battled. Rorer plan to honor his legend by arguing the “Hawkeye” nickname, forever granting the Hawkeye defensive line the reputation of being called after among the fiercest defenders of are of every time.

Obviously, in more recent history, native American-influenced team names have actually been viewed in a negative, racially charged light. Yet the admiration Chief black Hawk garnered in his later years native citizens of ours state belies the concept that the Hawkeye surname denoted anything other than respect. Chief black Hawk self noted, “I say thanks to the good Spirit that ns am currently friendly with my white brethren. Us are right here together, us have eaten together; we are friends.”


On the various other hand, whatever specific dynamics were at play in the peace that had actually been forged, no doubt they were steeped in colonialism. So, some object to the Hawkeye team name. As indicated by the “tigerhawk” logo, the UI ranges itself indigenous this interpretation, no matter just how historically likely (and likely well-intended) it might be. In fact, in 2004 the university of Iowa baseball team cancelled a game with the Bradley university Braves because of their violation that UI policy banning “any mascot that depicts or represents native Americans” indigenous its athletics facilities, one of two people disclaiming or skip the native American affect on its own Hawkeye name.

Once a an ideal nickname had been i agreeed upon between the ar elite, there remained the matter of obtaining its citizens to take on it. Both Rorer and Edwards were important in encouraging citizen to adopt the “Hawkeye” moniker. Edwards argued in The ft Madison Patriot the the name would “rescue from oblivion a memento at the very least of the old chief.” yet a single editorial could scarcely be enough to sway the fearsome Hairy Nation. Therefore Rorer also ghost-wrote a series of anonymous letter to the Dubuque newspaper purporting to it is in a Michigan traveler passing with our state. The four letters entitled “A Wolverine among the Hawkeyes” to be submitted in 1839 and also widely reprinted throughout Iowa.


Curiously, not among the geniuses who came up with this bizarre idea appeared to think this tactic the the very least bit disingenuous or deceitful, even when the letters had to be rewritten to disguise Rorer’s handwriting! In the letters, the “Wolverine” (Rorer) touted the beauty beauty of the Iowa landscape and also the youthful vigor and red-cheeked an excellent health the its inhabitants, referring to them as “Hawkeyes” throughout. If flattering in some aspects, the letters were additionally severely an essential of many elements of territorial government, consisting of the existing governor and the town of Burlington. Cotton letters! What a convenient way to let your rivals know what you really think of lock without any type of risk come your own career advancement. Clever, clever Rorer.

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To additional stamp the agreed-upon nickname into the collective territorial psyche, Edwards quickly relocated come Burlington and renamed its paper The Hawk-Eye. In 1977, state legislator James Wells propose the nickname “Hawkeye” it is in officially adopted into Iowa law.

By hook or through crook, it appears we Iowans were destined to come to be the Hawkeyes. The story of our Hawkeye nickname is among cunning, vision and also honor—much like the play of our storied Hawkeye football team. Together we anticipate one more exciting season, let’s reflect on our interesting history and be grateful that our early on leaders had the foresight and dishonesty come foist upon us a nickname we have the right to be proud of. Walk Hawkeyes!

Every time Stephanie Catlett look at at your scraggly college-boy faces, she think the “Hairy Nation” could not have actually been too much off. (Herky picture courtesy the UI Libraries room of distinct Collections.)


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