Four school districts win approval of Native American mascots
Four districts can continue using Native American-themed mascots, the State Board of Education decided Thursday.
The board prohibited Native American mascots in 2012, but a 2014 law provided an exception for districts that entered into agreements with a local federally recognized tribe. Sixteen districts had until July 1, 2017, to enter an agreement or change their mascots. These were the last four cases before the board.
Philomath, Amity, Siletz Valley and Rogue River districts collaborated with the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, with public hearings and far-ranging discussions. The agreements include tribal school involvement, and curriculum developed on the tribes’ history and language. The agreements are also designed to foster respect and understanding of Native American culture.
The agreements are for five years and require renewals from the tribes, the districts and the State Board of Education.
Both sides praised the process and the improved relationships and connections.
“The process brought us closer together with the tribe,” Jim Kildea, Philomath School Board chair, said after the meeting. “It’s been a very positive, positive outcome.”
Brenda Bremner, general manager for the confederated tribes, said they had a long and close history with the Siletz Valley district and wanted the mascot to continue.
“It was our belief we had a right to retain that,” she said. Once they started looking at an agreement with the Siletz Valley district, it became apparent there was a connection with the other schools.
“It was an opportunity to correct the history and the history books,” Bremner said. “I think it is bearing fruit already.”
Rogue River will remain the Chieftains and keep its logo of a spear with feathers. Siletz, Amity and Philomath High School are the Warriors, and Philomath Middle School uses Braves. All four use profile images of Native Americans approved by the tribes.
Four school districts have already reached agreements with a tribe that have been approved by the State Board of Education.
- The Banks Braves, Scappoose Indians and Molalla Indians reached agreements with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde to keep their mascots but with some possible logo changes.
- Roseburg reached a deal with the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians to keep its mascot, the Indians, and the school had already been working to make changes to its logo.
Six districts opted to make changes acceptable under the law.
- Warrenton will continue using the Warrior name with new imagery.
- The Dalles became the Riverhawks in 2014.
- The Reedsport Braves changed the mascot to “Brave,” as in courageous.
- The Lake County Warriors are changing imagery.
- The Lebanon Warriors are changing imagery.
- Marcola will become the Mustangs.
Under the law, schools can continue to use “Warriors” as their mascot if they eliminate Native American imagery.
Two school districts, Oakridge and North Douglas, have not contacted the Oregon Department of Education. Both schools are the Warriors.
North Douglas Superintendent John Lahley said Thursday the school board decided to keep the mascot name but change the imagery and the law does not require the district to formally contact the Oregon Department of Education if it is in legal compliance.
Oakridge Superintendent Donald L. Kordosky said Thursday that the school board took action last month and that Oakridge is keeping Warriors but will have an academic logo.
Amity School District Superintendent Jeff Clark (right) asks the State Board of Education for permission for the school to keep its Warriors mascot. Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians General Manager Brenda Bremner (left) and Cindy Hunt (center), government and legal affairs manager for the Oregon Department of Education, testified in support of each of the four schools seeking approval Thursday. (Photo by Jake Arnold, OSBA)
- Jake Arnold, OSBA