Eye On Boise

WEDNESDAY, JULY 10, 2013, 11:45 A.M.

Community outcry prompts E. Idaho school district to slow move away from ‘Redskins’ mascot

After a community outcry, an eastern Idaho school district is delaying its transition away from its "Redskins" school mascot, the AP reports. In the wake of a Monday public hearing on the plan, Driggs school Superintendent Monte Woolstenhulme says he needs more time to work with school administrators and patrons on the transition; that means the mascot will remain for the upcoming school year. On Monday, nearly 170 residents attended a three-hour public hearing. Of the 67 people who testified, only three supported the mascot change and two more were neutral, with the majority urging to keep the name in a nod to school tradition and school pride. A "Save the Redskins" Facebook page has attracted 1,279 followers and an online petition to save the mascot on Change.org had collected 628 signatures by Tuesday. Meanwhile, Shoshone-Bannock tribal leaders called the name disrespectful and offensive. Click below for a full report from the AP.

E. Idaho school delays dropping Redskins nickname
 

DRIGGS, Idaho (AP) — The superintendent of an eastern Idaho school district is standing behind the decision to drop the high school's longtime Redskins mascot, arguing the nickname is offensive to Native Americans.

But Teton School District 401 Superintendent Monte Woolstenhulme says the process for replacing the Redskins mascot, logos and team uniforms will not likely happen for another year.

In the wake of a Monday public hearing on the plan, Woolstenhulme says he needs more time to work with school administrators and patrons on the transition.

"Right now I still believe it's the right decision to make, but allowing community input ... is an important part of the process," Woolstenhulme said, although he said he couldn't imagine a scenario where the nickname stays.

Woolstenhulme announced his proposal to nix the name last month after getting approval from the school board. But it also stirred significant community criticism and backlash.

On Monday, nearly 170 residents attended a three-hour public hearing. Of the 67 people who testified, only three supported the mascot change and two more were neutral, with the majority urging to keep the name in a nod to school tradition and school pride.

A "Save the Redskins" Facebook page has attracted 1,279 followers and an online petition to save the mascot on Change.org had collected 628 signatures by Tuesday.

The idea of dropping the name earned the backing of Shoshone-Bannock tribal leaders who say the nickname is disrespectful and offensive. School officials met with tribal leaders July 1 at Fort Hall.

"We feel it's culturally insensitive to title Native American peoples 'redskins,'" tribal spokeswoman Randy'L Teton said in a statement. "Sixty years ago it wasn't a big issue, but today it is ... offensive and a stereotype."

Even though Woolstenhulme says nothing has changed his mind, he says there is no need to rush the transition.

As a result, no immediate changes will be made to uniforms, school murals or signs depicting the Redskins name or mascot as previously planned.

Sports teams also will continue to play as the Teton High School Redskins for the 2013-14 school year.

"This is on hold right now," Woolstenhulme said. "The next step is getting feedback from school principals and organizing committees to look and study the mascot issue."


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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