A History of the name "Cherokees" at Sequoia High School
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In 1922 the Block "S" and the Circle "S" societies formed and backed a movement to have a nickname for Sequoia's athletic teams. So far, no other high school on the Peninsula had done this. Having a school mascot or a name for teams was something done at the college level.
An editorial in a 1922 edition of The Ikozian championed the idea that Sequoia High School should become the first to name their teams. The idea caught on. The Block S Society appointed a committee of three (Lester Harper, Stanley Mitchell and Joe Britschgi) to review suggestions and present them to the Block S who would select a favorite to present to the Student Body for their final decision.
At the first meeting held, the first nickname suggested was the "the Sequoia Giants", in reference to the giant Sequoia trees. The name went over pretty well.
The years 1923 and 1924 passed by and there was no final decision on what to call the teams. Finally on October 7th, 1925, the winner was announced: The "Cherokees" won more votes and would be the official name, beating out the runner-up, "Sequoia Jackrabbits". (Note: The "Jackrabbits" was a contender due the number of jackrabbits running around the athletic fields).
We don't know who suggested "The Cherokees" in reference to the great Indian Chief Sequoyah, who was half Cherokee, but it seemed quite fitting that since the school was named for the Sequoia redwood trees, and that they had received their name from the great Indian chief, that the school's athletic teams should become "the Cherokees" in his honor.
Thus, it was in 1925 that Sequoia's athletic teams became the Cherokees to honor the Indian Chief who was the namesake for the school.
Helen Graves, a former member of the City of Redwood City Historic Resources Advisory Committee researched and wrote the above history in 1995.
Probably nothing characterizes the special bond with the Cherokee affiliation for Sequoians more than the words expressed in the foreword to the 1926 Sequoya Commencement book. We share them with you now:
Long, long ago in the land of the Cherokees there
lived an Indian chief, Sequoya. Besides being one
of the greatest of the Indian wartime chiefs, Sequoya
was a leader in times of peace. In order that the name of
his tribe might live forever in the thoughts of men, Se-
quoya invented the Cherokee alphabet. Now "Sequoya"
is a symbol of learning, of wisdom.
Long ago, a tree grew up in the forest. Sequoia, "Big
Tree," was the name given to it. Sturdy, tall, majestic,
grand, towering above all else, the tree was a masterpiece
When the trustees and taxpayers of the Redwood City
District decided to build a new high school, after much
discussion, Sequoia was selected as a suitable name: Se-
quoia – for the brave, self-reliant Sequoya, who, not with-
standing many hardships, never faltered in his high ideal
to make the name of the Cherokees famous; Sequoia – for
the Sequoia tree, the tall, majestic Sequoia, a symbol of
honor and truth, sturdy uprightness.
Last fall, Sequoians adopted "Cherokees" as the name
for athletic teams and students; the Cherokees – Sequoya's
tribe, for whom he lived, labored, and died; the Cherokees
– Sequoia's own tribe of self-reliant, brave young Indians.
In honor of the Cherokees, both past and present, the
Indian motif is used in this, the 1926 SEQUOYA.