Old fight song lyrics show Simpson’s Redmen past

by Kelli Herzberg

A part of Simpson’s sports history is often times called offensive and racist. Most Simpson persons know something about the Redmen, but an old 20th century fight song called “The Scalp Song” shows why the college moved away from this past.

“A scalp, a scalp, a scalp to hang up on the trophy wall!” begins Simpson’s early fight song, according to Professor Emeritus of History Joe Walt.

Many find these past lyrics to be very racially offensive.

“The song talks about scalping people and using their hides for drums,” junior Matt Henderson said. “It is very offensive to not just Native Americans but to everybody.”

Professor of History Owen Duncan also said these lyrics were very racist, and said the very offensiveness of them was the reason the fight song was dropped by the administrators before he joined the faculty in 1969.

“I came in ’69,” Duncan said. “I know it is a historical document, but it wasn’t around. It didn’t have to do with the change from the Redmen to the Storm. This was dropped before the change…I think ‘The Scalp Song’ was changed by the administrators.”

Other students agreed that this change benefited the college.

“It is just horrible and rude,” freshman Justine Hoffman said. “The new song is a lot better. It doesn’t affect people, like it doesn’t say that you’re going to scalp them or kill them.”

When the college moved from Redmen to Storm, it had already done away with anything associated with Native Americans.

“With the Redmen, the college had been very careful to drop all the Native American references,” Duncan said. “We didn’t have Indian heads or scalps. This sort of thing had been dropped. So Redmen to me was a more neutral thing. But the song was still offensive. It was probably right that they needed to go the whole way, change everything.”

While Duncan believes the Redmen was somewhat neutral, Hoffman realizes there will always be problems with the way people interpret something like that.

“I can see how the Redmen could be neutral,” Hoffman said. “But still when you have song like that and a name like that, it doesn’t matter what you’re trying to say, people are going to interpret it differently.”

Henderson agrees that a mascot such as the Redmen is going to cause issues.

“It is the same argument for the Washington Redskins,” Henderson said. “People want it to change because they claim it is racist. Others don’t really think it is too offensive. The thing is there is always going to be issues with something like this. I think it’s a good thing the college went ahead and changed it just to avoid all of the possible racism that could have gone with the original mascot.”

The Scalp Song

A scalp, a scalp, a scalp to hang up on the trophy wall!

The foe, the foe, the wretched foe was taken to a fall! Victoria !

Round the glare of mighty fires dancing figures great and small, will hoot and yell, as warriors there assemble at the call.

Jah, Jah, Jah, Jah, Jah, Jah.

We’ll broil, we’ll broil, we’ll broil them on the gridiron ’til they’re done!

Their hides, their hides, their hides we’ll tan as covers for our drum!

A banquet! Hollow skulls will serve as drinking cups to toast the victory won, then to our tents at rising of the early morning sun.

Hi, jah, jah, hi, jah, jah.

Hi, jah, jah, hi, jah, jah.

Hi, jah, jah, hi, jah, jah.