UPDATE: Teton School District Releases Statement on Nixing Native American Mascot 

Updated Post: Thursday, July 18:
The Teton School District will not spent public money to replace Teton High School's now-former mascot, "The Redskins," according to a release from the district issued July 18.

According to documents from the district, that transition could cost almost $30,000.

The district also reiterated its commitment to soliciting public input on what the new mascot will be, and at a work session for the school board slated for Tuesday, July 30, the board will hear public testimony and begin to develop a plan for the school going forward.

Original Post: Wednesday, July 17, 1:26 p.m.:
The board of the Teton School District has voted to retire Teton High School's mascot, "the Redskins."

At its regularly scheduled meeting on July 16, the board members voted 4-1 to remove the mascot, which had sharply divided the eastern Idaho community. Supporters said the mascot was a source of pride, but critics countered the mascot was a racist slur against Native Americans. For nearly everyone, however, it was time for the school board to make a decision.

"I don't know how much more there is to say about this. There has been years of conversation, and I really worry that if we delay, that rift [in the community] will get bigger," said Driggs resident Peter McKellar.

In 2013, District Superintendent Monte Woolstenhulme floated a plan to replace the mascot. What followed was an historic meeting that ended with the high school keeping its mascot despite denunciations of the mascot from the Shoshone Bannock and Nez Perce tribes. The topic has been on a low boil in the eastern Idaho town ever since.

click to enlarge TETON SCHOOL DISTRICT
  • Teton School District
The controversy over the mascot was white hot, and garnered national headlines. The State of Maine recently banned the use of Native American school symbols and mascots, and there has been mounting pressure to replace the name of the professional football team from Washington, D.C., which is a Native American mascot.

The issue has resonated across Idaho. Earlier this year, a group of Boise High School students and alumni reached out to the school principal to begin removing items and iconography from the school pertaining to its mascot, the Boise Brave.

More recently, Rep. Chad Christensen, whose district includes the Teton High School, held a forum at the Idaho Statehouse led by former member of the Native American Guardians' leadership team Andre Billeaudeaux, on the historical and contemporary importance of Teton High School's mascot, advocating for its retention. That event was disrupted by demonstrators, who questioned the legitimacy of Billeaudeaux's research and argued that "redskins" is a harmful term for Native Americans.

Retiring mascots and symbols at high schools is expensive, since those symbols appear on everything from school letterhead and sports jerseys to buildings and monuments. A document released by the Teton School District broke down those costs: concession trailer signage ($1,500), sports team uniforms ($18,000), team chairs at the high school gym ($3,000) and general high school signage ($4,420), for a total of $29,612.

See a video of the entire Tuesday meeting below:


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