Each season, SFA and Northwestern State University of Natchitoches, Louisiana play for the country's largest football trophy.
Chief Caddo stands 7 feet 6 inches in height and weighs over 320 pounds. The wooden statue is awarded annually to the winner of the Lumberjack-Demon contest. The statue originated in 1960 when longtime rivals SFA and Northwestern State decided to award the winner of the game a trophy. The two institutions settled on a statue of a legendary Indian chief whose tribe was responsible for settling the locations that became English-speaking Nacogdoches and Natchitoches.
The loser of the 1961 game would have a tree chopped down from its nearby forests, which would be sent to the winning school, who would have the statue carved. Northwestern State won that 1961 game 35-19, and SFA delivered a 2,000-pound black gum log to Northwestern State. Woodcarver Harold Green spent some 230 hours fashioning the statue. He was named Chief Caddo to honor the Indian tribe that not only settled the two communities, but provided safety for the early white settlers in the area. Historians say had it not been for the Caddo Indians, the Spanish and French colonists who came to the area would not have survived the onslaughts of Apache and Comanche warriors from the west, and the Natchez from the east. Also, French and Spanish writers of the time said it was certain, wise Caddo chiefs made it possible for the two European colonies to live as neighbors while their mother countries were at war against each other.
As to common heritage of Nacogdoches and Natchitoches, there is some question about how the cities -- each the oldest settlement in their respective states -- got their names. Both versions agree that an Indian chief with two sons sent one east and the other west, and they traveled the same distance and established villages. As for the folklore in question:
One version, as reported by historian Samuel Stewart Mims in "Rios Sabinas", credits the chief of an Adae Indian village on the Sabine River. The village was overpopulated and the chief ordered his two grown sons to report to him precisely at sunrise. He told one son to walk east and the other to walk west until the very moment of sunset. The sons were to establish a village at the place they reached. The son who went west wound up in a grove of persimmon trees, and named his village Nacogdoches, meaning persimmon. The eastbound son reached a grove of papaw trees and named his village Natchitoches, meaning papaw.
Another version says that the chief had twin sons, Nacogdoches and Natchitoches, and could not decide who would lead the tribe following his death. The chief split the tribe between them and sent each in different directions. They traveled for three days, one eastbound and one westbound, and wound up where the cities are located today.
SFA and Northwestern State have been playing for Chief Caddo since 1961 and the Demons have a 22-11-1 advantage in the trophy game. Last season, the Lumberjacks brought the Chief back to Nacogdoches for the first time in two years, by virtue of their 29-14 win over Northwestern State.