Home Education Lamar’s school board voted to abandon the name of the mascot “Savage”.

Lamar’s school board voted to abandon the name of the mascot “Savage”.

The Colorado Sun

Lamar High School cannot use the term “Savage” in any form in the name of the school mascot. Not savages. Not Wild Thunder.

It was a decision Thursday by the Colorado Indian Commission that added 10 more schools – all with Thunderbird mascots – to list of those who do not comply with state law, which bans most Indian mascots.

Lamar’s school board, meeting at the same time in a special session, listened to the remarks of the CCIA board, heard the rejection of the nicknames offered to them and adopted Plan C: Lamar Thunder.

The resolution of Lamar’s board appeared in the chat section at the CCIA Zoom commission meeting. Then, during a public comment at the end of the meeting, superintendent Chad Krug told commissioners that the word Savage had been repealed and asked them to vote again.

They didn’t.

They told the Circle to work with CCIA staff and postponed the meeting.

It is unclear whether this threatens Lamar with a fine of $ 25,000 a month starting June 1. In April, the county presented the commission with evidence that it had removed most images of Indians from the school and developed a new logo with the bison.

Lamar High School has developed logos that include the word savage in its new mascot name, but dropped the insulting word after the Indian Commission said it did not comply with state law.

However, punishment may be a threat rather than a reality, as the law does not provide law enforcement provisions, and no department is responsible for imposing fines. In addition, the law states that the penalty is for “continued use,” and does not mention the compliance list used to determine fines.

The circle said it did not want it to turn into a lawsuit because it believes the district is enforcing the law.

“Are we concerned about the possibility of a fine?” he said. “Deep down, absolutely. We take this absolutely seriously. But we thought we were engaged.

“I don’t want it to come out as a winner or a loser, but as a solution.”

Schools added to the list on Thursday may have a year to qualify

For the schools that were added to the list this week, the problem-solving process is just beginning. They are likely to have until June 1, 2023, to enforce the law under the provisions of recently passed law awaiting the governor’s signature.

The commission this week removed 11 schools that had been on the list since it was approved in September. Another 11 schools were recognized in March as law-abiding.

Among those eligible on Thursday were three schools Caiova who will retain their Native American mascot by agreement with the Kai tribe in Oklahoma.

The rest of the schools eliminated the mascots of the Indians.

“We are grateful to have completed this compliance process,” said Matt Jenkins, a spokesman for the Montrose School District, which included three schools.

Jenkins watched the CCIA commission meeting through headphones, watching as students do science experiments as part of STEM’s daytime activities (science, technology, engineering, and math).

“It was good because it reminded me why I went into this business – we all went into this business to help the kids,” he said. “Things come across in our plates like this (law) that we have to deal with and we do. The spirit of this law is good. “

The brave school of Montrose High School became a bear and was removed from the list of schools with banned mascots in March.

The Montrose High School Indians became red hawks, but remained on the list, while the district and CCIA commissions bargained for a single logo that had the letter M with hanging feathers. This logo was discarded and high school dropped off the list.

About the Thunderbird School

The last hurdle for the district was the mascot Thunderbird, which was used in Johnson Elementary School. The county did not consider it degrading or specific to Native American culture, and claimed the case.

The commission disagreed and then identified 10 other schools with Thunderbird mascots that were missed.

The first suggestion that the commission could add schools to the list of banned mascots or logos was made at a meeting on March 10, when CCIA Executive Director Catherine Redhorse noted that Hinckley High School in Aurora and Sangre de Cristo School District used Thunderbird mascots. There was no discussion or movement to add them to the list.

A special meeting April 6, however, was called specifically to discuss the Thunderbird mascots. After waiting 45 minutes to get a quorum, the board spent 34 minutes in the executive session and then less than 10 discussed the school, which it would later consider not complying with the Mascots Act.

On April 25, seven districts were notified that they were likely not in compliance with the law, and were invited to present information about their mascots at a special meeting on May 2, according to documents released by The Sun at the request of Colorado Open Records.

Most school officials said they were surprised by the notice because the Thunderbird mascot had not previously been identified as offensive. They told CCIA commissioners at a special meeting that they would comply, but asked for more time.

Cheyenne Mountain School Superintendent David Peak asked the commissioners for time to engage with the community before making changes, as was the case in March 2021, when the high school mascot has been changed.

He also noted the cost and time required to remove Thunderbird images, and said the county quickly contacted some contractors and learned that it could take 9 to 12 months to complete some work, such as restoring the gym floor.

His comments were supported by other school officials, including Sonia Mackenzie, legal counsel for Cherry Creek schools.

Hearing about the Thunder Ridge High School discussion in early April, the county told the CCIA that it has a second school – Arrowhead Elementary – with the Thunderbird mascot, she said.

“We have no problem accepting these changes, but we need time,” she said at a meeting on May 2.

Johnson Elementary School in Powder County School learned that her home school in Montrose is on a non-compliant list, and in January began work on rebranding the school in Husky.

And Shaushin Elementary School in Grill worked on the changes even before the ban on the mascot was introduced. On Thursday, he announced to students and staff a new mascot, the Sparrowhawks.

But they all made the list this week.

“We never tried to be challenged.”

Circle, head of Lamar, said he hopes the schools recently added to the list will take the time needed to work with their communities because change is not easy.

It took CCIA officials also time to realize that districts needed good feedback that they could return to their communities.

“We’ve never tried to be hostile or play the system,” he said. “We tried to balance the interests of society and the commission.”

Several times Lamar’s council organized a working session or special meeting that coincided with a CCIA commission meeting or presentations so that they could listen together and discuss what they heard.

But feedback, as Krug and others have said, often came too late in the process.

“Today was one of the clearest feedback we’ve received from them,” he said, noting that he has repeatedly discussed that the county wants to preserve the word “savage” in some sense, as it is synonymous with the prairie city. The school is on Savage Avenue, for example.

At Thursday’s meeting, several commissioners spoke about the word and how it has historically been used to show Indians smaller than humans.

“The word savage was used humiliatingly – it gave the right to form colonies without regard to local communities,” said Commissioner Nicole Miera, referring to a reading about the “savage” which read: “The world would be better off if this place no longer knows it.”

If the school used a nickname like Savage Thunder, it would likely continue to call its athletes Savages, as it has for decades, so the negative association will remain, said Doug Wilsak, who represented the Department of Natural Resources. Many government agencies have representatives on the CCIA board. The DNR is a member with the right to vote. The agency is cleaning up racist names from Colorado’s natural attractions, last month removing swearing against Native American women of 28 place names.

“From 1887 to 1934, the process of assimilation for Native Americans was to become civilized,” said Manuel Hart, chairman of the Ute Mountain Tribe. “We were recognized as savages, unequal people. Today we need to change this and remove the wild images. ”

Members of the Montrose High School football team take to the field against Fruita Monument High School on September 6th. The 2021-22 sports season at the MHS will be the last that teams will define as Indians. (William Woody, specially for The Colorado Sun)

Schools that were found compliant with the law on Thursday:

  • Aricari primary and indivisible high schools, were Indians, now bison
  • Cayovo Primary, Secondary, and Secondary Schools Remain Indians Under Tribal Agreement
  • Johnson Elementary, Montrose, Thunderbird retired, new mascot
  • Montrose High School, Montrose, was an Indian, now the Red Hawks
  • The schools of the mountain valley, the Saguachi, were Indians, now wolves
  • Yuma primary, secondary and secondary schools, eliminate Indians, no new mascots

Schools with Thunderbird mascots added to the list of inappropriate schools on Thursday:

  • Hinckley High School, Aurora
  • Arrowhead Elementary, Cherry Creek
  • Thunder Ridge High School, Cherry Creek
  • Cheyenne Mountain High School, Colorado Springs
  • Thunder Mountain Primary School, Grand Junction
  • Johnson Elementary School, Fort Collins
  • Sangre de Cristo School, San Luis Valley
  • Shawshin Primary School, Grills

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