Ending practically a century-long custom, Sequoia Union Excessive College has formally dropped the nickname “Cherokees” for its athletic groups in response to critics who contend the moniker marginalizes and stereotypes Native Individuals.
Wednesday’s unanimous determination by the Sequoia Union Excessive College District Board of Trustees culminates a debate that has stretched throughout twenty years.
“We perceive that there’s some nostalgia with the workforce title in our neighborhood,” board President Georgia Jack mentioned in an interview Friday. “However we imagine it’s vital to take heed to our college students and provides them the assist to guide, as a result of they’re the present stewards of the highschool.”
Issues surrounding the college’s former workforce title and mascot got here to a head in 2001, when the then-school board voted to banish the Cherokee Indian because the Redwood Metropolis faculty’s bodily mascot. Nonetheless, the board opted to permit its athletic groups to maintain the Cherokees as their nickname.
The varsity’s mascot grew to become a raven, and pictures of a Cherokee Indian on faculty T-shirts and uniforms had been slowly phased out. However the nickname remained.
Juggling a separate mascot and title, athletic groups haven’t had names on their jerseys for the final a number of years, in line with Melissa Schmidt, the highschool’s athletic director.
“It (the board’s determination) lastly provides us readability,” Schmidt mentioned. “It can enable us to maneuver ahead with a real identification.”
The Cherokees nickname nonetheless stays on scoreboards, banners and murals all through the college. Schmidt mentioned directors will quickly begin engaged on a plan to exchange these.
Over the past decade, quite a few organizations have taken a stand towards the usage of Native American tribes as faculty mascots and workforce names, together with Native American tribes themselves, the Nationwide Faculty Athletic Affiliation and the California Legislature.
In 2015, then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed a invoice — the California Racial Mascots Act — into legislation that prohibited the usage of “Redskins” as a faculty workforce title and mascot within the state.
Conversations round Sequoia Excessive College’s Cherokees nickname had been sparked once more in late 2018 when college students shaped a membership referred to as Prepared for Ravens, which sole goal was to alter the college’s workforce nickname from the Cherokees to the Ravens.
Members of Prepared for Ravens gathered a petition signed by greater than 600 college students and academics urging the college board to formally change the nickname. Additionally they carried out a survey wherein extra half of scholars and greater than 95 % of workers mentioned the highschool ought to change the workforce title.
On the board’s Dec. 12, 2018 assembly, the scholars made their final plea.
“To see everybody for who they’re and to maneuver away from discriminatory practices, we have to get rid of the boundaries — the stereotypes — stopping us and society from seeing the reality about folks,” Andrew Mancini, co-chair of the Prepared for Ravens membership, mentioned in a video introduced to the board on the December assembly.
Sequoia Excessive College, which opened in 1895, named its mascot after a Cherokee chief referred to as Sequoyah in 1926, in line with the scholars’ video.
“All of us perceive that the scholars and workers again within the 1920s thought they had been honoring the Cherokees, however now that nationwide organizations and Native American tribes, together with the Cherokees themselves, have explicitly acknowledged that they don’t really feel honored, it’s vital that we respect that request,” Mancini added.