How UNO became the Mavericks — not the Unicorns

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Kathryn O’Connor
News Editor

On Oct. 8, 1908, the Maverick story began with the founding of Omaha University with the Indians as their mascot. Photo courtesy of UNO News Center

Nearly 50 years ago, the UNO student body was faced with a monumental decision: Demons? Mavs? Unicorns? Roadrunners? Fifty-one votes. That’s all it took for the Indians to become the Mavericks — and to avoid becoming the Unicorns.

Following the approval on Aug. 5, 1971, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) decided to ditch the original name of the Indians and select a new mascot to represent the future generations of UNO. 

An election was held to determine the new nickname. The proposal not only signified a change in cultural thinking, moving away from the racially-charged “Indians” nickname, but also began a new chapter in the university’s history as it became part of the University of Nebraska system just three years prior.

The final tally brought the “Mavericks” ahead by only 51 votes over the Unicorns, with the vote shaping up like this:

  • Mavericks: 566
  • Unicorns: 515
  • Roadrunners: 397
  • Demons: 346
  • Indians: 0

This influential change was announced before the October Homecoming football game against Northern Colorado. It was complete with the introduction of a new mascot. Before Durango, which all current students know and love, there was Victor E. Maverick, a live steer that would run onto the field celebrating with his new team.

UNO had been known as the Indians from 1939 to 1971, but now claims the Mavericks as the university’s longest-reigning mascot, encapsulated by the Maverick Monument located in the center of Dodge Campus at the Health & Kinesiology (H&K) building. 

Outside the Weber Fine Arts Building, students can find a unicorn sculpture dedicated to the school’s almost namesake. As UNO celebrates its birthday, learn more about the history of how UNO became the home of the Mavericks.

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