North Central High School has received overwhelming support to retire its mascot, the Indians, and pursue a different symbol to represent the school.
Dozens of alumni, current students and parents called in to a public forum sponsored by the Spokane School District Tuesday night. They shared their concern about how using a stereotypical image of a Native American can be damaging to Indigenous students.
“It feels like most of the pushback comes from alums who say it's tradition and we need to honor tradition. I think when we don’t think about the kids walking the halls right now, it could be now, it could be 1983, 1940, it’s harmful to them.”
That’s 1983 North Central Graduate Anne Walter, who shared her support for finding a new, less offensive symbol. Only one person called into the meeting to say the school should consider keeping the mascot, but they said the district should consult with the Spokane Tribe.
Students at North Central have tried to change the mascot several times, but received pushback from alumni. The most recent efforts to change the mascot have support of both students, and the schools’ principal. The school district may also be required to retire its mascot next year due to a new state law that bars schools from using Native American imagery as mascots unless they have approval from a nearby tribe.
Several recent alumni also called into to support the change, including Kaylee Mellgren, a 2019 graduate.
“As high schoolers, all we want to feel comfortable in our skin, but this is especially hard for us Indigenous students at NC as we succumbed to the social pressures of society and screamed along “Go Indians” so we could prove to our leaders that we have pride in our school. But this pride is broken and based within a violent history of oppression and systemic racism that continues to exist today.”
The Spokane Public School Board will discuss what the next steps are to change the mascot during the Wednesday evening meeting. People can attend in person, or go to the district’s website to attend over Zoom.