Demand for Change: Local school districts aren’t considering mascot changes

Local school districts consider mascot change

MIAMI VALLEY — In the past few days, the Cleveland Indians of Major League Baseball and the NFL’s Washington Redskins, have said they’re considering changing their team names.

News Center 7 reached out local school districts with similar monikers on whether they’re planning to change their names.

Stebbins High School is one of at least six schools in the Miami Valley that uses the nickname “Indians” for their athletic department.

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Amy Scott, from Riverside, says her siblings graduated from Stebbins and said she can see why some folks want the mascot changed, but adds she’s OK with keeping the nickname.

“I can understand it yes,” said Scott. “But I don’t know I just think they should keep it what it is. It’s not causing any other issues.”

Guy Jones lives in Dayton and is Native American. Jones is Hunkpapa Lakota and says he wants change at every level of sports, from the pros to high schools, when it comes to Native American mascots, team names and imagery.

“A lot of these schools that have these mascots in the sense that their perception as to who we are as people,” said Guy Jones. “You know, we’re not warlike people … when you look at these mascots, they really do a great deal of injustice,” Jones said.

No less than 17 high schools in the Miami Valley use either Native American nicknames, imagery or both for their athletic programs.

Piqua, Fort Recovery, Newton, Mechanicsburg, Cedarville, Stebbins, and Carlisle High Schools are the Indians.

St. Henry, Fort Loramie, Wapakoneta High Schools are the Redskins.

Madison High School in Middletown uses the nickname Mohawks.

Wayne, Lebanon and Northwestern High Schools are the Warriors and use Native American imagery with the name. The Springfield Shawnee Braves, as well as the Preble Shawnee and Tecumseh Arrows also use Native American imagery in their logos.

News Center 7 reached out to all 17 districts Monday. The superintendents for Preble Shawnee Local Schools, Lebanon City Schools, Madison City Schools, Wapakoneta City Schools, Mad River Local Schools and Cedar Cliff Local Schools responded as of late Monday afternoon. All said their respective districts have not had any formal discussions about name or logo changes.

Mad River Local Schools Superintendent, Chad Wyen, added in an email response to News Center 7 Monday that, “Several years ago, when we dedicated our new field (at Stebbins High School), we actually invited representation from an Indian Tribe to drum and sing on our field prior to opening it up for the football season. They were honored to participate,” Wyen wrote.

When asked about the district’s “Redskins” nickname by email, Wapakoneta City Schools Superintendent Aaron Rex replied to News Center 7 by saying in part, “At Wapakoneta we have always believed that our representation of Native Americans and their history in our area has been done with a great deal of respect. Our community was once a place inhabited by many Indian tribes with the last being the Shawnee under the leadership of Chief Black Hoof. In the last few years we have redesigned our school logo and feel that it has been done keeping the idea of respect and history in mind. Wapakoneta has a great deal to be proud of as you know. Native American history is one piece of what makes our town one of the best small towns in Ohio.”

Guy Jones says he is disappointed local schools are not considering changing their mascots right now, but says he’s relieved to see a conversation starting in the professional ranks when it comes to the Cleveland Indians and Washington Redskins.

“(These teams say), ‘OK we’re considering a name change.’ OK so you’re recognizing the fact that this is a problem,” Jones said. “And the way that we can fix the problem is to identify the problem. And so recognizing the problem is a huge step in the right direction,” Jones said.

After the MLB and NFL franchises released their respective statements last week, name changes for the Cleveland Indians and Washington Redskins seem all but inevitable. News Center 7 will let you know what the new team names are when the clubs make final decisions about their re-brands.