Roseburg, Ore (KMTR) Roseburg High School, along with sixteen other Oregon schools, may have to change their mascot based on a vote in the State Board of Education Thursday.
The board voted to continue a conversation that started five years ago about eliminating school mascots that use Native American themes. In 2006 Che Butler, a senior at Taft High School in Lincoln City made a presentation on the use of Native American mascots by Oregon public schools. He said the mascots were not respectful to the history and culture of Native American students. Since then the option to clear out all remaining Native American themed mascots has been on the table.
The board hasn’t voted to change anything yet, but they are keeping the conversation open. They plan on meeting in April to draft rules regarding a possible ban, and reconvening in May for a possible final decision.
The news isn’t sitting well with everyone, including some local Native Americans. They say they like seeing the “Indian” themes in schools, and say it’s a nice way to keep their legacy in the forefront.
“The Warriors and the Indians should be able to keep their names, to keep our heritage going,” says Wanda Huff, a registered American Indian. “They’re not our Indians, no, but they keep our heritage going with those two names.”
Students voiced concern as well. They say changing every logo in the school, on every helmet, uniform, and letterhead would cost thousands. With the Roseburg School District already knee deep in financial woes, they say it’s money that could be better spent somewhere else.
“It’s a representation of who we are,” says Chloe Mathis, a Roseburg High School student, “I think there are better ways to spend that money then on changing something that isn’t really that harmful in the first place.”
Mathis says the Indian feather mascot is a point of pride for the school, and a celebration of the rich Native American history of the Umpqua basin.