Pocatello-Chubbuck will drop Indians mascot in June

POCATELLO — Pocatello High School’s Indians mascot will be no more after the 2020-21 school year.

The Pocatello-Chubbuck School Board voted Tuesday to retire the controversial and historic mascot effective June 1. The decision followed more than two hours of public testimony and an impassioned discussion among trustees.

“Enough is enough,” said trustee Janie Gebhardt, who pushed to replace the mascot immediately. “It’s time to make the change.”

Other board members agreed with changing the mascot, but said doing so now would be too much.

“(The students) have already gone through so much this year,” said trustee Jackie Cranor.

At least 100 emails sent to trustees in recent weeks spelled out similar concerns from parents and students, trustee Jim Facer said.

Some of those concerns surfaced Tuesday, when 23 students, parents, educators and tribal members testified.

Sixteen called on trustees to do away with the mascot.

A member of the Shoshone-Bannock tribes asks the Pocatello-Chubbuck School Board not to change Pocatello High School’s Indians mascot.

The mascot “mocks certain aspects” of Native American culture, said Pocatello High School football coach Dave Spillett. “It’s not our place to tell others how they should feel.”

Seven others disagreed.

“It would be disrespectful and degrading to change the mascot,” former Pocatello High School student-athlete Elijah Armstrong told the school board.

Ultimately, four trustees voted to nix the mascot in June and begin the process of choosing a replacement name in the meantime.

Gebhardt, who called for an immediate change, cast the only dissenting vote.

Pocatello-Chubbuck trustee Jackie Cranor calls for retiring Pocatello High School’s Indians mascot later this school year.

The Shoshone-Bannock tribes last year asked Idaho schools to get rid of all American Indian mascots. Some districts have met the request. Teton dropped its controversial and longstanding Redskins mascot in July 2019. Boise trustees changed Boise High School’s “Braves” mascot to “Brave” a month later.

American Indian-themed mascots still in place include:

  • Buhl High School (Indians).
  • Preston High School (Indians).
  • Salmon High School (Savages).
  • Salmon River High School (Savages).
  • Shoshone High School (Indians).
Devin Bodkin

About Devin Bodkin

Reporter Devin Bodkin covers education issues in East Idaho. He is a former high school English teacher who specializes in stories about charter schools and educating students who live in poverty. He is a 2019 Solutions Journalism Network fellow and the Idaho Press Club's 2019 print reporter of the year. Follow Devin on Twitter @dsbodkin. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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