The Cheyenne Mountain School District Board of Directors submitted a proposal that would eliminate the "Indians" mascot and other Native American references by the 2021 school year.
Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs will move away from its longstanding "Indians" mascot and related imagery and references, according to a proposal submitted by the Cheyenne Mountain School District's Board of Education at its most recent meeting.
The proposal was submitted just weeks after a change.org petition created by Amiya Peddada, a 2018 graduate of the CMHS, collected more than 6,000 signatures in favor of removing and replacing the school's mascot. The petition calls the continued use of the Indians mascot "a harmful reminder of oppression" and a "blatant display of racism." The board also heard comments from members of the community about the issue at a meeting in August.
In a statement earlier this year, the board acknowledged it had received numerous communications over the past several months regarding the school's team name. It said it worked in 2016 specifically to change the mascot and related imagery to "demonstrate both respect and honor in our identity as Cheyenne Mountain Indians." However, it said it is clearly now time to revisit the issue and said it is a high-priority conversation.
Should Cheyenne Mountain High School change its mascot from the Indians? The debate took a step further Monday night. https://t.co/YkfvuawLWo— KRDO NewsChannel 13 (@KRDONC13) September 1, 2020
The proposal reviewed at the board's meeting September 14 states that use of Native American symbols, mascots, and images interferes with educational experiences of members of the community and refers to several public position statements by groups that advocate for Native American affairs that encourage the discontinuation of the use of Native American names and images. These include the National Congress of American Indians, which has urged all schools to change their team names, logos, mascots, and behaviors to those that do not violate the human and civil rights of native people.
The Association on American Indian Affairs that states, "The use of American Indians, Alaska Natives and Indigenous Peoples as school mascots is a form of institutional racism that affects all of us."
An explanation posted on the school's website says the mascot goes back more than 100 years to principal Lloyd "Pappy" Shaw, who had an appreciation for Native American culture, art, and values and worked to keep the legacy of the Cheyenne people alive at the historic Cheyenne School at a time when native peoples no longer inhabited the area. The document said the school is committed to using the "Indians" name with honor and respect, not using imitation or wearing Indian symbols, and avoiding logos, graphics, and artwork that characterize the appearance of Native Americans.
However, the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes have not endorsed a Native American name or figure for the school's use and the tribe's position is that they do not grant any such permission even with conditions, according to a statement submitted by the tribe's governor, Reggie Wassana, in the proposal considered by the board.
The proposal comes at a time when a high-profile name change involving Native American nicknames and imagery is being eliminated. The NFL's Washington Football Team—formerly the Redskins—is in the process of renaming and rebranding its team.
The proposal still requires a vote by the board. If approved, the proposal calls for Cheyenne Mountain High School to retire and phase out its mascot and team name by the beginning of the 2021 school year. A new mascot and team name will be recommended by a committee appointed by the superintendent, which will include a representative of the district and at least 12 other citizens, including students. The proposal directs the committee to give due consideration to the school's original team name—the Mountaineers.
The proposal specifies that other Native American names, titles, and instances of Native American appropriation—including Kiva, smoke signals, pow wow, tribe, and Akichita—will be removed and no school materials or events shall refer to Native American names, titles, and appropriations.
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