It started in the 1920s with the mascot "Redhounds," the school colors of maroon and white lending themselves to the colorings on the red and white spotted canine. But, in time, due to the fact that the Corbin City School was using the same mascot, the idea of the Indian as the school's mascot began to catch fire and before long the Indian made its way on to athletic uniforms and into campus cheers.
Although it was never officially adopted, the choice of the Indian as the college's mascot seems most appropriate considering the area's Cherokee heritage.
The earliest inhabitants of Southeastern Kentucky belonged to the Algonquian Indian linguistic group evidenced by artifacts found by archaeologists, but it was the Cherokees of the Iroquian language family which made their way into what is now Whitley County long before the white pioneers explored and settled in these mountains.
At that time the Cumberlands were called "Quasioto" by the Cherokees and historical records show the Indian tribes had a large, complex community in the Williamsburg area.
In 1824, Constatine Rafinesque made a discovery which sites Williamsburg as a area of great importance to the Cherokee.
Rafinesque, the first botanist in the west, was one of Kentucky's most celebrated characters during the 1800s. A professor at Transylvania University, Rafinesque was infamous for wandering off for weeks at a time chronicling plants and wildlife.
During one of his absences from Transy, he came upon an abandoned Indian village "on the Cumberland above Williamsburg" which he included in his Ancient Annals of Kentucky. This site contained, according to Rafinesque, a teocail - or religious temple - 360 feet long and 150 feet wide, one of the most important discoveries concerning the area's Cherokee nation.
But the presence of Indians has been well-chronicled long before Rafinesque's discovery. In Collin's History of Kentucky, the author tells of an incident on the Laurel River where twenty-one settlers were killed by a band of warring Cherokee.
John Tye, whose descendants were later to become Prominant members of Williamsburg society during its "Golden Period," lost a son to another party of warriors on Popular Creek.
Collins also re-tells the story of Joseph Johnson, who was killed in his home by three Cherokee near what is now Corbin on Lynn Camp Creek.
With evidence of Williamsburg as being on the Cherokee's major living, hunting and burial ground, the choice of the Indian as Cumberland's mascot seems an apt one.
Students may also be thankful to pioneer and explorer Dr. Thomas Walker who, in 1760, named the river gap, and mountain "Cumberland," in commeration of the unpopular British Duke of Cumberland, future King of Hanover. Known as the "Butcher," he defeated the Scotts under Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden in 1749.
Had it not been for his Anglophilia, Cumberland College could have come to be known as "Quasioto" College.
Exert taken from The Lamp.
The Indian through the years:
"The Cumberland College Board of Trustees has voted to change our mascot from "Indians" to the "Patriots" which is more in keeping with our college's architecture and our city and the name Williamsburg. After all, our architecture is in keeping with Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. We can do so much more as "Patriots" in image enhancement and in exposure of the college.
As we change our mascot to "Patriots" we hope to eventually build a replica of Independence Hall as a business building and a replica of Monticello as a science building as funds become available. As funds become available, we'll perhaps rename our gift shop at the Cumberland Inn the Dolly Madison room, for crafts, doll making, quilting, and pottery displays. As funds become available, we could model a new dorm after the Christopher Wren dorm at William and Mary. We will want to order two additional larger flags, one for campus and one for the stadium.
Further instructive, our geographical area was involved in a good deal of early American history. One native of the area, who is buried not all that far from the campus, Pierce Dant Hamlin, was a very distinguished Revolutionary War soldier, with an impressive record of crossing the Delaware and fighting with General George Washington at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Today we proudly fly the flag; we have ROTC; our college has produced four military generals, an admiral and on and on. Congressman Rogers tells me we have the largest number of veterans in this congressional district of any in the nation.
Over time I believe we could create more of an emotional bonding through this Patriot theme, a continuity of the past and hope for the future. The mascot change will take effect immediately."
Taken from news release by Dr. Jim Taylor, Cumberland College President.
On May 20, 1991, the only child of President and Mrs. Taylor was killed in an automobile accident. It was the night before Young Jim would have graduated from high school.
Due to the generosity and enormous support for the Taylor's during their time of grief; many contributions were made to the college in honor of Young Jim. It was this support that made possible the construction of the football, track and soccer complex. The Board of Trustees voted unanimously to name the complex the James H. Taylor, II Stadium after President and Mrs. Taylor's son. It seemed fitting since Young Jim was the first ball boy when football was reinstated in 1985.
In 1994 before the first football game of the season, the stadium was dedicated in honor of Young Jim. During the dedication, Young Jim's horse, Big 'un, which he adored, was led around the track by his two cousins. It was a rider-less horse and his boots were placed backwards in the stirrups to symbolize he would never ride again. It was that same day that the tradition of touching the wrought iron horse was born.
The wrought iron horse is a symbol of Young Jim's love of horses and stands as a blessing to the team. Each game, as the football team emerges from the tunnel, they gently tap the horse for good luck.
The Rollins Rowdies, taking their name from the O. Wayne Rollins Center, where many of Cumberland's sports play out were formed approximately five-six years ago. Unlike many other sporting traditions at Cumberland, this one's roots lay solely in the hands out the students. Students independently formed the group and still maintain it today. The "Rowdies," as the student body has grown to call them are a group of dedicated Cumberland fans. No one knows when they will appear, but you can find them face-painted and cheering at most home basketball and football games.
This annual tradition was begun in 1983 by then headmen's basketball coach Randy Vernon. The employees of the Campus Center Grill who wanted to do something to help introduce the team to the public contacted Vernon. The grill staff prepared their special blend of Cumberland chili with a salad and desert, and the tradition has continued. Each year before basketball season gets underway, October, the men's basketball team sends out a special invitation to the college family and community inviting them to "Meet the Patriots."
In 1990, Vernon decided to spice up the chili supper and added the annual Maroon and White Scrimmage to the mix. After the team members are introduced at the "Meet the Patriots" chili supper, the players and community adjourn to the O. Wayne Rollins Center where the team is split into a maroon and white squad. A showcase of what the season holds is displayed as the community gets their first look at what the Patriots have to offer.
On April 22, 2005, the Cumberland College Board of Trustees voted unanimously to change our name from Cumberland College to University of the Cumberlands, Inc., effective at Midnight, June 30, 2005. This brought together four units that comprise Univeristy of the Cumberlands: Cumberland College (the undergraduate liberal arts program), Hutton School of Business/Management, the Center for Leadership Studies and the Graduate & Professional Education program.
"The mission of our college will not change, only the name which is more reflective," stated President Jim Taylor. "Cumberland will continue its traditions and affiliation with Kentucky Baptist Convention seeking to strengthen these ties."