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Wichita Schools Drop North High Redskins Mascot


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Native American imagery at North High School, currently embroiled in a controversy over the school’s mascot, the Redskins.

The Wichita Eagle

Wichita North High School will discontinue use of its Redskins mascot.

The Board of Education unanimously decided to end the use of the mascot for a period of two years.

“We have a wonderful opportunity to correct a mistake from the past,” said Chairman of the Board Stan Reeser.

A committee created by Wichita Public Schools to study the mascot determined, “The term is offensive to Native Americans and Native American culture. The term is racially and culturally insensitive.

Starting in the next school year, the district will begin removing “red skin” from uniforms, jerseys, and sports and fine arts facilities, as well as school activities and clothing. Trophies and statues are exempt from removal.

“This is not about rewriting history or erasing the great pride and achievement of the community and alumni of Wichita North High,” said Terrell Davis, director of special projects at $ 259 and head of the mascot committee.

Reeser said the decision will help heal wounds while respecting the school’s heritage, adding that diversity is the district’s greatest strength.

“It is clear that this term has become derogatory with racial connotations,” he said.

The public response has been swift, with some calling for change for a long time.

“This is a change that should have happened many years ago,” read a response to the $ 259 tweet announcing the decision. “I can’t wait to switch to a mascot who can uphold traditions without the racial slurs.”

Some alumni have said on social media that they will continue to see North High as the Redskins.

One commentator argued that “no one was ‘offended’ by the name until told to be.” Another said she wanted people to “stop calling her racist” and “the mascot was very proud of”. Supporters of the mascot change were sometimes referred to as “snowflakes”.

Others on Twitter and Facebook decried what they saw as “canceling culture” and “erasing Native American culture.”

“Native American culture doesn’t revolve around North High? Read another tweet. “Want to know more, we have a great place called the Mid-America All-Indian Museum. Just remember that the term “red skin” was used as a racial epithet … “

The museum, at 650 N. Seneca, is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The museum does not use the term “red skin” on its website.

No new mascot was chosen at Monday’s board meeting. Under current policy, the principal can create a new mascot and students can be included in the process.

However, the district said in a statement that the North High administration “at this time … has no plans to create a new mascot.”

The school will continue to use the shield, drum and feather logo.

The board, on the recommendation of the committee, also led the development of a first year curriculum at North High that highlights the school’s history and its Native American influence. Board member Ernestine Krehbiel suggested expanding the program to all high schools in the district.

The decision was made with the public banned from attending in person due to restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic. The board received 122 pages of public comments by email ahead of the meeting. More than half supported keeping the mascot, though others said the nickname is a racial insult and should be changed.

The term was not intended to be offensive when it was first introduced as a high school mascot, Davis said.

“She was chosen with pride because we were the only school that could bear the name, emblem and symbol of Native Americans,” Davis said, quoting Bernadine Drowotzky Jensen from the class of 1930. “We admired Indians and with pride we could carry their banner of distinction.

The committee determined that North High was the only school in the district with a mascot based on race or culture.

The committee found that the term was first used by Native Americans to describe themselves, but was later transformed into a derogatory insult with a violent connotation. In at least one case in the 1860s, the term referred to the scalped head of a Native American, used by the government to describe the rewards for killing natives.

“You can’t take that term out of its history and say:.

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Jason Tidd is a reporter for the Wichita Eagle covering breaking news, crime and the courts.


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