By: Morgan Taylor, Reporter
TULSA, Oklahoma – In recent events, several big-name teams including the once Washington professional team have decided to retire the mascot and logo which has been a long-standing issue with being discriminating to the Native American culture.
Soon after the NFL team made their announcement many other teams nationally and even locally started to follow suit including local Tulsa school, Union Public School.
On Monday July 13, a school board meeting was held with the topic on the agenda. The school board allowed 15 guest speakers with three minutes each to discuss topics on the upcoming agenda. All 15-guest speakers spoke in regards to the mascot change and of the 15 only one opposed the idea.
Many of the guest speakers included parents and students of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and members of other tribes who were in support of the movement to change the current Union Mascot to something new. Many referred to a recent statement made by the Chief of the Cherokee Nation, Chuck Hoskin, Jr., which displayed his support of the movement for change.
‘The battle over the Washington professional football team name and logo has been a decades-long struggle, but we have now taken a giant step forward. The organization listened to outside corporate pressure and abandoned a racial slur as its team name,’ Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. ‘The announcement to retire the name out of respect sets a precedent that other teams who still use Native mascots in their names, imagery or team promotion should follow. We know fans who have grown up with this team may struggle with this change, but we hope they realize the significance it has for Natives and the understanding of Native Americans in today’s society. This name change shows honor and respect for Native people in this country. This action means the dialogue on this subject across the country will continue, as it must.’
After listening to each guest speaker, the Board approached the agenda topic and decided to form a non-standing board committee for the single purpose of reevaluating the districts continued use of the mascot logo and mascot.
During the meeting, Superintendent of Union Public Schools, Dr. Kirk Hartzler said he believed it is time to reevaluate the use of the mascot and logo.
‘Over the last year I have received a number of concerns regarding the continued use of the Redskin mascot,’ Dr. Hartzler said. ‘Of particular concern to me, is that I am now hearing more from those in the Union community. In the past, the concerns have primarily come from outside the Union district. When the Board of Education made the decision to retain the mascot in 2003, it was after much collaboration from Union stakeholders and several of our Native American parents and students. Now with the concerns coming from within Union including patrons, staff members, students, and alumni, along with the current events concerning the use of Native American related logos and mascots. I believe it is time to revaluate the districts continued use of the Redskins logo and mascot.’
Dr. Hartzler gave many recommendations on the committee. He recommended the committee contain 35 members from various areas and levels among the school system. Also, allowing them until December to decide solely if the use of the mascot and logo should continue and allowing the formation of a new committee for the choice of the name after December if the current committee decides to abolish the use of the mascot and logo.
The school Board members voted all in favor of the forming of said board.
The meeting to be held in August will introduce the board members and create minutes for the committee.