John Swett High School Mascot, Indians, Removed after 90 years

cropped-10984110_917315454956092_6113370555949546181_n.jpgAlumni from John Swett High School, Molly Batchelder initially reached out to Wounded Knee Deocampo, Elder Advisory for SSPRIT, wanting to decolonize her high school mascot; Indians. In late 2013, SSPRIT successfully consulted and advised in the removal of the Vallejo High School Mascot; Apaches. This removal inspired Molly to request assistance. AIM West and ACLU were contacted to assist, as they had provided support with the decolonization of the Vallejo High School Mascot.

All parties met and an initial meeting to discuss the removal of the JSHS Mascot took place. It was agreed that action needed to be taken and a meeting was scheduled with John Swett Unified School District (JSUSD) Superintendent; Rob Stockberger. Also in attendance during this meeting was JSHS Principal Jeff Brauning. It was recommended by the Superintendent that the Coalition do community outreach; the Coalitions outreach lasted one full year.

On Febrauray 11, 2015 the mascot went up for a vote at a school district meeting. Many people from the Crockett and Rodeo Communities made a show of support and spoke on behalf of removing the mascot, as did several people from the Indigenous Community. Three people who were in opposition spoke in support of keeping the mascot. One lady stated she was fourth generation alumni and wanted to keep the mascot because of “Family Tradition.”

Native American mascots perpetuate negative stereotypes of Native American people, and demean their native traditions and rituals. Over 115 professional organizations representing civil rights, educational, athletic, and scientific experts have published resolutions or policies that state the use of Native American names and/or symbols by non-native schools/sports teams is a harmful form of ethnic stereotyping that promotes misunderstanding and prejudice which contributes to other problems faced by Native Americans.

After a request to have ongoing educational support from SSPRIT, The John Swett Unified School District, Board of Education unanimously voted to remove the mascot. Board member, Jim Delgadillo stated the mascot needed to be removed in order to show “respect” for Native Americans and the Native American Community.

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