Letter To Dozens of Iowa Schools Urges Removal Of Native Mascots
One by one, schools in Iowa and across the country are replacing their names and mascots from those with a native American connotation to something else, as tribal groups and other organizations request the collective change.
Almost 2,000 schools nationwide have Native-themed mascots
The National Congress of American Indians says names like Indians, Warriors, Braves, Chiefs, and Redskins are deeply insensitive to their groups and are attached to 1,935 schools in the country. So far 50 of them have retired these names. Calls for these changes are becoming a growing trend.
After Marion became the "Wolves" and Camanche, now the "Storm", rebranded their school names from "Indians", 66 more Iowa schools are being urged in a new letter by the Sac & Fox Tribe of the Meskwaki Nation in Iowa to do the same. These schools include the Waukon Indians, Wapello Indians, Spirit Lake Indians, Montezuma Braves, Keokuk Chiefs, Oskaloosa Indians, Mason City Mohawks, and Indianola Indians who are being asked to make a switch according to the Cedar Rapids Gazette.
It's not just schools changing their names
Linn County also renamed Squaw Creek Park to Wanatee Park last year, honoring Jean Adeline Morgan Wanatee, who was born on the Meskwaki Settlement in Tama County in 1910 and was the first woman elected to the Meskwaki Tribal Council. That change officially took hold in September 2020, after the conservation board discussed and honored a request to rename the park due to "Squaw" being deemed disrespectful to Native American women.
Iowa ACLU director Mark Stringer said in a statement the changes are needed. Not doing so, he says, would "perpetuate negative and cartoonish stereotypes, inappropriately represent sacred and religious traditions, and are especially offensive given the long history of oppression against Indigenous peoples."
There are many opinions for and against these changes but after some baby steps were taken in their favor, supporters of this movement now appear to be looking for more widespread action.
It's going farther up than just the local level
Professional sports teams are also feeling increased pressure, as the Cleveland Indians will soon become known as the Guardians, and the NFL Washington Football Team is still discussing a new name to replace "Redskins."
As we look around sports at other teams with these names, we see The Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Braves as well as the Florida State Seminoles in college athletics, just to name a few, who have so far remained untouched. Time will tell if they stay that way, but should they?