Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Wah Wahtaysee Park

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Institution Name: McMurry University
Original/Historic Place Name: Wah Wahtaysee Park
Location on Campus: northeast corner of campus
Date(s) of Construction:
ca. 1951original construction Unknown
Type of Place: Landscape site
Style: (Glossary)
Significance: education, landscape
Narrative: see below
References: see below
1951-present (2006)outdoor space (Homecoming, freshman orientation programs, picnics, other outdoor activities)

McMurry's athletic teams are called the Indians. The founding president, Dr. James W. Hunt, was raised on the Kaw Reservation in Oklahoma and picked the mascot when the school began in 1923. In recent years, some minor modifications have been made in certain school symbols in deference to Native American sensibilities. McMurry has been generally successful in making its mascot and associated traditions respectful of Native American culture. The name "Wah Wahtaysee" is alleged to mean "firefly" and was the name given to the uniformed girls' pep squads for many years.

Since 1951, McMurray has held the "Tepee Village" competitions, in which about two dozen campus organizations vie annually for the most authentic tepee reproduction. Three Native American judges, usually from Oklahoma, evaluate the displays. Some five thousand school children from neighboring communities tour the village on Homecoming Friday each year and hear costumed McMurry students discourse on Native American customs.

This field is better kept than in earlier years, when it was simply undeveloped pasture land. Regular watering, trimming of the grass, and improvement of the grounds after the wear and tear of every Tepee Village event keep the site attractive.


Pride of Our Western Prairie, McMurray College, 1923-1982. Abilene, TX: McMurry University, 1989.


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Last update: November 2006