Oregon Schools React to Mascot Ban

May 18, 2012

By Jennifer Richardson

PHILOMATH, Ore. — The State Board of Education banned Native American mascots in Oregon schools.

Now we’re hearing from local students and administrators about what the ban means for their schools.

Philomath School District is home to both the Warriors and the Braves.

Now that the Oregon Board of Education passed a Native American mascot ban, it’s in for some big change over the next five years.

Walking through the halls of Philomath High, you can’t miss the plethora of school pride.

“We’ve always been proud of the Warriors. In a majestic sense, we look up and honor the Warrior,” said Philomath High School senior Emily Klipfel.

“When you think of a warrior as a mascot, you think of something that is tough and goes into battle,” senior Jackson Northcutt.

Shirts, posters and signs all bear the emblem.

Under the ban, the Warriors name can stay, but the imagery must go.

For the middle school and its Braves, everything must go.

“It’s a tough position for schools because we feel like we are being respectful honoring that culture,” Philomath Superintendent Dan Forbes.

Not all tribal members view the images as respectful. Some even say they are racist and discriminate against their culture.

“I think we are disappointed because it’s going to be weird to have a change, but we are understanding,” Klipfel said.

“We have to respect what other people feel. So it’s disappointing, but we understand,” said senior Braydon Caoder.

The transition must be complete by 2017 and will likely cost districts hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“All of our uniforms have the Warrior head, so we will have to get new everything,” Klipfel said.

“I feel like people should be more worried about how our schools function instead of what their mascot is,” Caoder said.

For now the Oregon Board of Education has spoken, and in the end, these students say it’s not the image that defines them.

“There’s a saying going around: once a warrior, always a warrior,” Northcutt said.

Forbes says he, along with the Lebanon School District, will look at appealing this decision.

He says it should have been legislators making this decision.

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