The "Big Green" Nickname
The first Dartmouth College intercollegiate athletic contest, a baseball game, was played in 1866. At that time, green was adopted by the students as the college color. Green has been associated with the College and its athletic teams ever since.
Starting in the 1920s sportswriters (primarily representing Boston's many newspapers of the day) began to regularly use the nickname "Indians" in their coverage of Dartmouth's football team as it achieved a position of national prominence. The usage was grounded in reference to the College's founding mission in 1769 - the education of American Indian youth (known today as Native Americans) in the region.
For about 50 years thereafter, the nickname "Indians," though never officially adopted by the College, was used actively and interchangeably with "the Green," "Big Green" and "Hanoverians" by the news media and in Dartmouth publications in coverage of the College's teams. The Indian symbol also appeared on uniforms of athletic teams during this period.
In 1972, Dartmouth renewed its commitment to the education of Native Americans. Recognizing the adverse effects of use of the Indian symbol upon the College's Native American Program and its students, an ad hoc committee of the Dartmouth Alumni Council encouraged reduction in use of the symbol. In 1974, the College's Board of Trustees stated that "use of the (Indian) symbol in any form to be inconsistent with present institutional and academic objectives of the College in advancing Native American education."
By the mid-1970s the Indian symbol, which had never been formally adopted by a College governing body, was discontinued.
Since that time, the primary nickname for Dartmouth teams, again never officially adopted, has been the "Big Green." PMS 349, a dark green referred to frequently in relation to the College as "Dartmouth Green," is the specific color used in publications relating to Dartmouth athletic teams and in other College publications.
During the past 25 years, various student initiatives have proposed numerous candidates for a tangible mascot, symbol or nickname that could be a companion or alternative to "Big Green" when identifying Dartmouth athletic teams. To date, none of these recommendations has received sufficient broad-based support from students or alumni to merit adoption.