For a school district in Houston, Texas, the clock is ticking on retiring the name “Redskins” forever.
Last week, ICTMN reported that the Houston Independent School District proposed a new policy that would require at least four schools to change their names. The Lamar High School Redskins is one of them. The other three are the Hamilton Middle School Indians, the Westbury High Rebels and the Welch Middle School Warriors.
On December 12, the district voted 8-0 in favor of that proposed policy, giving preliminary approval to stop using mascot names that are racially insensitive to Native Americans.
District trustees said that they would take a second vote in January for final approval on changing the names and once approved, new mascots would be assigned to the schools in the 2014-2015 school year.
State Sen. Rodney Ellis applauded HISD's vote last Thursday night. "Houston should be proud that they have leaders at HISD that recognize when it's time to move on past mascots that no longer reflect our values."
According to KPRC-TV in Houston, the NFL Washington Redskins released a statement in response to the district’s vote:
"We respect the Houston Independent School District and its right to make decisions on a local matter, but we believe it is disregarding the appreciation and pride many Native Americans hold for a name that respects our country's Indian heritage and tradition.
We also believe this decision disregards a sentiment we have repeatedly heard from many American Indians who support the team's name, such as Desmond Wesley, who grew up in Texas. He wrote us to say, 'I too have Native American roots. I am considered an African American, so I understand racism and oppression. This does not seem like that to me. I completely support the name Redskins…I am so proud of the name and the team. I hope [they] will keep it.'
The Redskins agree with Desmond and we too do not believe the name should be changed."
Some Lamar High students did not agree with the board’s decision.
“The Lamar Redskin at our school is a symbol of honor, a symbol of pride that we hold so very proudly," said Keffus Falls to the Chicago Tribune. Falls created an online petition to keep the school’s mascot. More than 1,000 current and former students have signed it.