District considering recommendation to replace high school mascot
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POCATELLO — Pocatello High School’s mascot will be the topic of discussion at a school district work session next week.
During the meeting, Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25 will consider an administrative recommendation to retire the Indian as the school’s mascot.
“This issue is not new. The debate has been part of an important local and national dialogue for many years now,” School Board Chairman Dave Mattson says in a news release.
After months of debate, the NFL announced in July the Washington Redskins will play the 2020 season as the Washington Football Team and pick a permanent replacement name later.
Teton School District in Driggs made a similar decision in June to change the high school mascot from Redskins to Timberwolves.
The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes in Fort Hall made a big push for the change after calling for a removal of all Native American high school mascots and nicknames in the state last year.
In a position paper to the Idaho State Board of Education last July, they referred to these mascots as “racial misappropriation.”
“The people, the schools and institutions who developed these names Savages, Redskins, Braves (and) Indians are perpetuating racism and stereotyping,” the document states, according to the Idaho Statesman. “The Shoshone and Bannock tribes have not been asked to be part of something that directly impacts our people so historically and so personally.”
Former Pocatello High football coach Tom Harrison told the Idaho State Journal in June he does not believe the Indians mascot is offensive or degrading to the Native Americans, but would support a change if the majority were in favor of it.
“Redskins and Savages are slang terms in comparison to the word Indian,” Harrison said. “If it’s just one group who is speaking the loudest and not really reflective of the general population, then I have an issue with it.”
Mattson says he appreciates the “continued discussions and respectful relationship” the district has cultivated with the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes’ over the past several decades and looks forward to continuing the discussion at next week’s meeting.
“Our obligation as the governing body of the school district is to listen to the recommendation being presented and then, after thoughtful and careful deliberation, make a final decision regarding any next steps moving forward,” says Mattson.
The work session will be held Sept. 8 at 11 a.m. A final decision will not be made at next week’s meeting, but will potentially be made during the regular board meeting at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 15.
Both meetings are open to the public online or in person at 3115 Pole Line Road.