Saturday, May 21, 2022

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Push Continues in Iowa to Remove Native American Mascots in Schools

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Tuesday, November 2, 2021   

MASON CITY, Iowa -- The Atlanta Braves are part of this year's World Series, and their name, imagery and chant face growing backlash to be replaced with something not related to Indigenous culture, as some other pro-teams have done.

It's not just a pro-sports issue. In Iowa, there are new efforts to change mascot names in public schools.

In Mason City, the school board is discussing whether the high school's "Mohawk" nickname should be discontinued.

Le Anne Clausen de Montes, coordinator of the Iowa Change the Name Coalition and a mother of Indigenous children in the district, said while some say it is part of school tradition, it is not a reason to keep using it.

"You think about the tradition of tens of thousands of years of Indigenous peoples in North America or elsewhere, and, you know, 95 or 100 years pales in comparison," de Montes asserted.

Coinciding with the local effort is a letter from the Meskwaki Nation, which calls upon 66 schools in Iowa to retire Native-themed mascots.

Aside from arguments about school traditions, others reluctant to change these names contend they were adopted to honor Indigenous people. But groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union countered all the nicknames do is perpetuate stereotypes.

De Montes acknowledged in many cases, it is likely the nicknames were first decided upon without the intention of creating harm. She argued it speaks to a broader lack of awareness when it comes to other cultures.

"For a lot of folks, it's just simply not having good information, not knowing how to ask the questions about the use of Native American names," de Montes explained.

She feels there is less hostility toward the movement to retire these names, citing the racial reckoning from the past year. And at the pro level, franchises such as the Major League Baseball team in Cleveland are making changes. In Iowa, the Marion School District recently retired its "Indians" nickname.


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Jim Liberty Cabin is on the site of Peak House, a hotel that was built in 1891 and eventually destroyed by a windstorm. (NH Division of Historical Resources)

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