Around 20 local schools still have mascots with Native American names

Published: Jul. 13, 2020 at 7:26 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - While the professional football team in Washington D.C. announced they will change their name, around 20 different local schools have names that involve Native Americans.

Although there is currently no widespread local pressure for these schools to change their names, some groups are hoping the change at the professional level changes minds at the local and regional level as well.

One of those groups, the Great Plains Action Society, said the time for those changes is “long overdue” in a statement sent to KCRG-TV9. The group welcomed the change to Washington’s logo and name, and hopes it will lead to addressing other problematic racist imagery.

Ray Halbritter, who is a member of the Oneida Nation, is the head of a group called Change the Mascot. They work to educate the public about the damaging effects on Native Americans arising from the use of the teams’ soon-to-be old nickname. He said the NFL and Dan Snyder, the owner of Washington’s professional football team, made the right call.

“This is a good decision for the country – not just Native peoples – since it closes a painful chapter of denigration and disrespect toward Native Americans and other people of color,“ Halbritter said. “Future generations of Native youth will no longer be subjected to this offensive and harmful slur every Sunday during football season.”

Around 20 different schools in Iowa have mascots with names that involve Native Americans. Marion Independent School District, whose athletic teams’ mascot is the Indians, is one of those schools. James Hancox, who attended the school and has a son in the school system, said it’s more about the school than any mascot.

“I can’t speak for other people and what offends them and what doesn’t,” Hancox said. “But it doesn’t change my affection and the history we have and what I’m familiar with.”

Sigourney Community School District, whose mascot is the Savages, used to have a Native American as a logo. The logo was changed in the 1980s to an S with a spear through it. However, the school kept the name.

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