History of the Aztec Identity

1925

  • After nearly three decades of unofficial nicknames, including Professors and Wampus Cats, student body votes to adopt the Aztec moniker. The decision to choose the Aztec as a moniker was in conjunction with preliminary plans to move to a new campus and was done in unison with changing the name of the school newspaper to ‘The Aztec’ and featuring a yearbook with prominent Aztec symbols.

1937

  • SDSU unveiled acclaimed sculptor Donal Hord’s black diorite piece, titled ‘Aztec.’ This highly acclaimed Works Progress Administration-funded sculpture was the centerpiece of campus for many decades.

1941

  • For the first time, a student portrays an Aztec in a football game skit. The character becomes known as “Monty Montezuma.” Over time, the character’s apparel is adjusted to become more historically accurate.

2000

  • Associated Students’ University Council passes a resolution, backed by the Native American Student Alliance, that calls for retiring the Aztec moniker and Montezuma mascot because they are racist and culturally insensitive.
  • The University Council puts the issue to a student vote, and students vote to keep the Aztec moniker and mascot.
  • The University Senate, comprised of faculty and staff, votes to retain the moniker while retiring the Montezuma mascot.
  • The Alumni Association board votes to support the moniker and mascot.
  • SDSU President Stephen Weber appoints a task force to make recommendations on the Aztec moniker and Montezuma mascot.

2001

  • Task force recommends updating logos and symbols to be culturally appropriate and historically accurate; defining Montezuma as an ambassador but not as a mascot; educating the university community on Aztec history and culture; and strengthening programs and events that support indigenous communities.
  • Weber decides that the Monty Montezuma name should be dropped, the costume should be made historically accurate and the character should have a regal bearing.

2002

  • Ambassador Montezuma debuts to speak on Aztec history and culture at events, but he is poorly received.
  • Alumni form the Aztec Warrior Foundation and unveil an unofficial, more historically accurate Aztec Warrior representation.

2003

  • Associated Students approves a resolution from the Native American Student Alliance and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán to oppose the Aztec Warrior and hold a student referendum to vote on “non-human” mascots.
  • The Aztec Warrior becomes official through a referendum vote of students and alumni.

2010

  • SDSU debuts Zuma, a jaguar mascot, at football games. The jaguar was retired in 2012.

2014

  • Queer People of Color Collective back a resolution to abolish the use of “Aztec” and the Aztec Warrior, which is rejected by the Associated Students University Council.

2017

  • Associated Students University Council rejects a resolution to retire the Aztec moniker and Aztec Warrior.
  • University Senate votes to end human representation of an Aztec and to stop representing the culture with spears or weapons that “connote barbaric representations of the Aztec culture.” The resolution calls for forming a task force to consider the use of the Aztec moniker and education related to the Aztec identity.

2018

  • February: SDSU President Sally Roush appoints a 17-member Aztec Identity Task Force comprised of students, faculty, staff, alumni and members at large.
  • April 30: The Aztec Identity Task Force recommends to SDSU President Sally Roush that SDSU retain the Aztec moniker; it is divided on the Aztec Warrior. Among other recommendations, the task force suggests the use of a variety of Aztec symbols, providing education on the Aztec culture and supporting indigenous cultures.
  • May 17:  SDSU President Sally Roush reports to the University Senate her decisions to continue the use of the Aztec identity. She also establishes a governing authority, chaired by the president, to ensure recognition of and reverence for the Aztec civilization become part of daily life at SDSU.