Teton trustees put off vote on Redskins nickname

After six hours of emotional public testimony that stretched into early Tuesday morning, Teton trustees put off a vote on a school mascot.

The school board will reconvene July 16 to decide whether to keep Teton’s historic — and polarizing — Redskins nickname.

But even the decision to put off a vote left trustees divided, Jeanette Boner of the Teton Valley News reported Tuesday. Trustee Mary Mello pushed for a decision. Trustee Ben Kearsley urged his colleagues to take more time to consider the long-term implications — and how a decision could affect voter support for future school bonds and supplemental levies.

Public comments were divided, Boner reported.

Some speakers urged the board to drop a mascot that has drawn opposition from East Idaho’s Shoshone-Bannock tribes. “Stop and take a close look at what we are fighting for,” incoming Teton High School senior Mason Moore said, according to Boner. “When the mascot has grown this divisive, then it’s not a mascot.”

Several speakers said they would withhold support for future ballot measures, if Teton drops the Redskins moniker. Others urged trustees to honor tradition.  “I graduated from Teton High School in 1954 and I’m very proud to be a Redskin,” former County Commissioner Jay Calderwood said, according to Boner. “The Redskin name was feared in my days.”

The Redskins controversy has festered for years but has reignited in recent months — including a student walkout supporting the nickname and a Facebook post from state Rep. Chad Christensen, R-Ammon, urging trustees not to bow to “political correctness and oversensitivity.”



Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

Get EdNews in your inbox

Weekly round up every Friday