School Board votes to change junior high school mascots

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School Board votes to change junior high school mascots

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Erica Roman

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Erica Roman

Erica Roman

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Laney Hoggatt, Co Editor-in-Chief

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In a 4-3 school board vote, it was decided that the district should no longer have any human mascots. This vote came after a Ramay Jr. High School student began a petition to change the school mascot. The petition was called  “A Race is Not a Mascot: Ramay isn’t racist, so let’s change the mascot!” and several students have signed it. The petition was also posted online where it has received almost 500 signatures. According to 40/29 news, the physical petition has received over 1,500 signatures.

“The School Board determined that mascots that feature human imagery are not in alignment with the board’s mission of inclusivity within all of our schools.” School Board member Keaton Smith said.

Changes will be made to make the schools more positive and inclusive. The new mascots will be decided by a committee made up of community members.

“The School Board voted in November to establish a Task Force made up of community and building-level stakeholders,” Smith said. “The Task Force will be recommending a process for how to engage with students, staff, and the community to select new mascots.”

Ramay and Woodland have been the Cowboys and Indians since the schools opened over 50 years ago. However, many have always felt that using Indians as a mascot is offensive and not inclusive to all students.

“It lumps hundreds of separate indigenous tribes under one over-simplified name, which is really incorrect since American Indians are not from India,” Smith said. “Additionally, an Indian mascot dehumanizes a race of people.”

Another issue with using Indians as mascots is cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation is when members of one culture use or adopt customs, ideas, clothes, and practices of a different culture. Some Ramay students would wear Native American headdresses, mimic Native American chants and dances at school events. This can cause students especially those of Native American descent to feel mocked, unsafe, or not included.

“Over the past 100 years, Cowboys and Indians have consistently been pitted against one another in popular culture, books, movies, and media [and] too often, the white Cowboys have been portrayed as the ‘good guys’ and the brown Indians have been portrayed as the ‘bad guys’ – or worse, ‘savages,’” Smith said. “This history is much longer and deeper than the history of the Ramay Indians and the Woodland Cowboys.”

The school board voted to change the school mascots to make all students feel safe and welcome at school and school events. They believe this mascot change will do that.

“Indian or cowboy mascots are caricatures or stereotypes, which can be harmful examples to children,” Smith said.

Despite the majority agreeing with the mascot change, there some opposed to the change. An opposing petition was made in hopes of keeping the mascots. People that signed the petition feel the issue is not that big of a deal or believe that the mascot change expenses will be too expensive and could be used to fund other things. However, the expenses will not be too hefty. The most expensive change would be the gym floors that have the mascot on them. All sports teams receive new uniforms every year and the signs should be an easy fix.

The school board hopes these mascot changes make the junior high schools more inclusive and welcoming to each and every student.

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