It took a marathon school board meeting. It followed months of divisive debate, including two student walkouts. It came after the student newspaper opted for change for similar reasons.
“It” is another high school dropping its longtime “Redskins” mascot, with this one in Idaho proving a particularly contentious exercise.
As reported by the Washington Post, Teton High School (Driggs, Idaho), which sits just outside Yellowstone Park and the Wyoming border, announced Tuesday evening it would retire its “Redskins” mascot at an undetermined date in the near future. The decision followed a formal school board vote in which four of five board members voted to discontinue the Redskins moniker, which has been in use at the school since 1929.
The vote followed four hours of contentious public debate played out during the school board meeting, which was held in the gym of an elementary school. According to the Post, students wearing shirts adorned with “Save Our Redskins” walked out of the gym immediately after the vote.
While the process to change the mascot was initially sparked by parental concern and a proactive editorial from the school newspaper — which was previously called “The War Cry” — two of Idaho’s largest Native American tribes also supported the drive to change.
The Shoshone-Bannock and Nez Perce tribes both publicly lobbied for the school to change its Redskins mascot. That included Shoshone-Bannock Tribal Chairman Ladd Edmo testifying against the use of the Redskins mascot before the school board, as you can see below via the Idaho Statesman.
According to the Statesman, the process to completely phase out the Redskins mascot and its related imagery on the campus is expected to cost approximately $30,000, though one board member felt that cost could be raised via a series of grants to avoid having to fund the transition from the district’s budget.
In the end, despite both the financial and social pressures brought by the debate, the board made the decision it felt was the “moral and ethical,” one.
“I believe it’s a moral and ethical decision,” Driggs school board member Mary Mello told the Idaho Statesman. “It was a very hard one for our board. I felt like we needed to remember what we’re charged to do. We’re charged to make the best decision we can based on facts and not individuals or special interest groups.
“And our No. 1 overriding goal in our school district policy and code of ethics is to always make the best decision we can for our students.”