Colville High School will no longer use its “Indians” name or Indian images on new sports uniforms.
School administrators took the action to ease tensions while the school board studies a request to eliminate Indian mascots entirely.
The Colville Confederated Tribes and local human rights activists say Indian mascots are offensive and should be banished. But many alumni oppose the loss of a century-old tradition.
“The administration simply said this is a sensitive issue and a lot of people are very concerned about it,” said Michael Cashion, director of student programs. “We have no need to run it up the flagpole.”
Students will still call themselves the Colville Indians, he added.
The Spokane Indians professional baseball team follows a similar policy to avoid offending people. While retaining its historic name, the team uses no Native American imagery.
Cashion said the school district also has obtained agreements allowing it to review the design of any “Colville Indians” clothing sold by two Colville retailers, Wal-Mart and Clark’s All Sports.
The agreements were prompted by a caricature of a tomahawk-wielding Indian on T-shirts that have been sold at the Colville Wal-Mart store since July 1996. The store plans to change the design now, Cashion said.
As a member of the Spokane Tribe, Cashion said he agrees with critics that the old design was offensive.
“Had we looked at it (when the design was introduced), I’m sure we would have said that’s unacceptable,” he said.