What’s next on the American Indian mascot issue?

The Shoshone-Bannock tribes have asked the state to get rid of all American Indian school mascots, the Idaho Statesman reported Thursday.

The tribes’ request, spelled out in a June position paper to the State Board of Education, contradicts a more recent comment from a tribal spokeswoman. Last week, Randy’L Teton told Idaho Education News that the tribes had no plans to lobby against American Indian mascots.

The mixed signals come days after the Teton School District voted to drop its Redskins mascot. The Sho-Ban tribes had urged Teton to drop the Redskins moniker, which had been in place for 90 years.

Teton’s decision still leaves several high schools with American Indian mascots.

The tribes’ position paper, obtained by the Statesman through a public records request, singles out seven other high schools: Boise High School (Braves); Buhl High School (Indians); Pocatello High School (Indians); Preston High School (Indians); Salmon High School (Savages); Salmon River High School (Savages); and Shoshone High School (Indians).

Calling on Gov. Brad Little, the Legislature and the State Board to prohibit the Native American mascots, the tribes’ Business Council said the names perpetuate “racism and stereotyping.”

Said the council: “The continued use of these names would only honor the non-Indian ideology created by dominant mainstream society, whose ancestors directly or indirectly killed, sold, removed, or demoralized the original Indian residents.”

The position paper does not mention other American Indian mascots: the Nezperce High School Indians, the Kootenai High School Warriors and the Meridian High School Warriors. The tribes were using a directory from the state activities association and might have missed some American Indian mascots, Teton, the tribes’ spokeswoman, told Michael Lycklama of the Statesman.

Last week, the tribes seemed to be distancing themselves from a lobbying effort against other school mascots.

Teton took issue with a July 18 Idaho State Journal article, which said the tribes were planning to issue a news release “following up on their previous statement to lobby statewide to eradicate Native American-related school mascots.” That statement was inaccurate, Teton told Idaho Education News.

Late in the afternoon, on July 18, the tribes issued a news release lauding the Teton district’s mascot decision. The release did not mention any other schools or their mascots.

In an interview with the Statesman, Teton pointed out that the tribes wrote their position paper before the Teton district made its mascot decision. After that divisive debate — and after working with trustees and the Driggs community — the tribes now want to work with schools, not against them.


Devin Bodkin and Kevin Richert

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