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Southern Illinois has long been referred to as "Little Egypt." This nickname may be the result of the practices of early settlers from Northern Illinois who traveled to Southern Illinois to buy grain after a series of bad winters and droughts. These wagon train folks recognized the similarities between themselves and the ancient Israelites who went to Egypt to buy grain grown in the rich Nile Delta. Others have noted the similarity in shape between the mounds of the Native Americans who once lived throughout this area and the ancient pyramids of Egypt.
Additionally, one notices the existence of many Egyptian names such as Carmi, Cairo, Thebes, Karnak, Goshen, and Dongola. Other area Egyptian names include Sahara Coal, Lake of Egypt, Little Egypt Distributing, Greater Egyptian Athletic Conference, Bank of Egypt, Egyptian Drive-in, the Daily Egyptian newspaper, Egyptian Public and Mental Health Department, Egyptian Shrine Club, Egyptian State Bank, Little Egypt Realty, and many, many more.
In 1960, when Southeastern Illinois College was formed, a sphinx was included in the official seal of the college to honor the "Little Egypt" heritage shared by the people of the college district. A few years later, when a logo was created for Southeastern, it incorporated yet another Egyptian symbol, the pyramid.
Southeastern's competitive teams have always had the falcon as their mascot. In Egypt, the king was thought of as a living god. While alive, he was Horus, the falcon-headed skygod, sitting on the magic Isis throne. When he died, he became Osiris, god of the underworld, and his heir became Horus.
Additionally, campus streets and roads also reflect Southeastern's allegiance to its Little Egypt heritage by locations such as Falcon Court, Sahara Drive, and Egyptian Drive, just to name a few.
At one time, a stone pyramid, approximately 12 feet high, sat on the front lawn of the campus adjacent to College Drive. The Little Egypt names and decor around campus serve as a daily reminder of our rich heritage, and we are proud to share this heritage with you.