Former Piggott Mohawks were members of ASU Indian Family

Wednesday, March 19, 2008
The ASU Indian Family as they were pictured on the front of the 1966 yearbook. The group included, from left: Tommy Smart of Piggott, Jim Fowler of Jonesboro and Marion (Russell) Nabors of Piggott.

As Arkansas State University makes its transition from the Indians to the Red Wolves, many memories of the former mascot and its traditions have received increased light, as a new chapter for the university and its future alumni is now underway.

One of the passing traditions is the Indian Family, a group of three students dressed as Native Americans who served as figureheads for the ASU students and fans at a number of sporting and school events.

Though many alumni have been a part of the Indian Family over the years, of special note is the fact two students from Piggott were a part of the tradition at the same time.

Tommy Smart and Marion (Russell) Nabors, both 1962 PHS graduates, were a part of the Indian Family. Nabors served as the Indian Princess during the 1963-1964, 1964-1965 and 1965-1966 school years, while Smart was the Indian Brave from 1964-1965 and the Indian Chief from 1965-1966.

Nabors can be credited with giving the Indian Family its "Mohawk touch" during this time period. She played a large role in bringing Smart aboard.

"Marion and I went to school together and graduated together, so we knew each other pretty well," Smart said. "She was the new Indian Princess, but no one had tried out for the Brave. They were looking for someone and she got me to try out."

To be part of the Indian Family, students were required to go through an interview process. Among the requirements were a 2.0 grade point average and horse riding ability.

Smart was an ideal fit for the group, having a strong background with horses. In fact, his participation was key, as he was the only member who had a trailer capable of transporting the group's horses to Kay Stadium. The group would ride out to the field prior to the game and the Chief also circled the track when the Indians scored a touchdown.

In fact, Nabors transferred to ASU with the expressed purpose of joining the Indian Family.

"I knew it was going to be something that was memorable and fun," Nabors said. "That's exactly what it turned out to be. I can remember being down by the field at the football games and how much the children at the game loved to come down there and see us. It really made you feel like you were a part of something special. Memories like that you don't ever forget."

However, being a part of the Indian Family also was a great deal of work. Each member was responsible for providing his/her own costume.

"We tried very hard to be Indians in the best sense of the word," Nabors said. "We tried to look as authentic as we possibly could."

The Family also kept a hectic schedule, appearing at each home football and basketball game and pep rallies, as well as numerous other school events.

"At the time, it could get kind of old," Smart said of the busy routine. "I am glad I did it, though."

Today Nabors resides in Franklin, Tenn., and Smart has returned to Piggott, but they remain connected as not only classmates and old friends, but as a part of the history of Arkansas State University.

With the mascot change, others who share in that history recently gathered at a special dinner held for members of the Indian Family. Smart did not attend, but watched the ceremony on television.

"I felt like it was more for the guys who represented them in the new stadium," Smart said.

Smart and Nabors, like many alumni, have mixed emotions about the mascot change.

"It's a shame they had to do it, but that's the way things are today."

"I'm really sorry to see it change," Nabors said. "I guess it's just part of the changes which have been going on for some time."

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