Why does the high school ‘Raider’ mascot look like Genghis Kahn and not a cowboy? (with updates)

I grew up with this Northfield Raider mascot on everything. It was on the basketball courts, painted through out the schools, on our jerseys, etc. It wasn’t until I was a junior or senior in high school did I think to question what it was or what it symbolized. I actually didn’t put two and two together about a “Raider” referring to the Jesse James Gang that raided our town in 1876. But why is he depicted of Asian decent? Who came up with this guy? There’s got to be some history out there about this. Please let me know if you have any guesses or historical background.

I could only find this version of the Raider. I believe the school decided a few years ago to remove his sword. I’ve drawn it back in here. Of course, the original version didn’t included a basketball either.

Note: The original Raider-Swordsman has both hands up at shoulder level, holding the huge sword over his right shoulder. Without my little drawing example, and the addition of the basketball, it would be hard to envision the original Raider emblem with sword.

Dick Hackerson's 1956 Winning Raider Emblem

UPDATE: I was at the Northfield Public Library with Kathy Ness yesterday and we went looking for the origin of this mascot.  It didn’t take long until I pulled out the 1956 Norhian and opened up to the VERY page we were looking for.  As it turns out, this is a “Pirate” and was decided by a contest held at the school.

In this photo you see the winner, Dick Hackerson, holding up a cutout emblem of his entry.  There he is!  Dicks little piece of art was copied into that odd looking Northfield Raider character that we see everywhere.  Who knew?!

I’m submitting these two photos from the 1968 Norhian following Ellen’s telling of the “legend” below. This has GOT to be the choir teacher that the Raider is modeled after.

Is Yosh Murakami the inspiration for the Raider mascot?

Leif Knecht dressed as the Raider during the Homecoming Parade

Leave a Reply

  1. Good find, although still not sure why the Asian depiction, I always thought “Raiders” was in regards to JJ. A great opportunity for a Dick Hackerson interview on Townie Radio!

  2. I remember in 1968 or 1969, someone convinced Leif Knecht to dress up like the Raider for the homecoming parade. Remembering that image still makes me smile– although I think at the time some adults were a little dismayed.

    I have to admit, I never thought there was a JJ association.

  3. I am the current yearbook advisor at NHS and the legend goes like this…in the late 50′ there was a choir teacher of Asian descent who would dress like a pirate and come running into the pep fests waving a machete. The students loved this man, and soon it became tradition. The contest to draw the mascot resulted in many entires that bore the likeness of this teacher. An Asian Raider was born. We have many copies of the Jesse James Raider on early yearbooks with the change coming after the contest. It may be time to do some research and see if this legend proves to be true. I have loved letting it linger in the yearbook room as Raider Lore.

  4. Yosh Murakami was of Japanese descent, St. Olaf class of 1951, a St. Olaf choir member. Joe Shaw writes that on a trip East a Norwegian whaler and wife provided lunch at the Waldorf Astoria for the choir and were amazed when Yosh thanked them in Norwegian.

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