Although some school districts in Oregon have abandoned Indian mascots, one in particular will continue with its pair of monikers and logos following a new agreement with a local sovereign Indian nation.
In compliance with the state law, the Philomath School District, located roughly 90-miles south of Portland, has agreed to work with the The Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians in devising new curriculum to include Native American history and culture. The district's mascots are the high school's Warriors and its middle school is the Braves, according to the district's website.
Five years ago, the Oregon State Board of Education voted to require all of its public schools with Indian mascots to either retire their mascot or partner with an Indian nation. School districts that fail to change their mascot by the July 1, 2017, deadline will risk losing state funding. The Philomath School District signed a five-year agreement with the Siletz Indians, which the school board approved on June 22.
“We really see this as being caretakers of very special mascots and images,” Paul Dakopolos, the school district’s attorney, told the state board, local newspaper The Gazette Times first reported. “I won’t repeat the fact that we have fully complied with the requirements of the law, but I think what’s important for you to understand is we've done so much more than comply. We’ve developed a very important and lasting relationship with the Confederated Tribes.”
Meanwhile, North Douglas School District in Oregon, also home to the ‘Warriors,’ decided not to partner with any sovereign Indian nation, and rather keep its mascot name, but drop its logo, ‘Willie the Warrior,’ and any reference to Native Americans as mascots.
Local newspaper The News Review reported the image of ‘Willie the Warrior’ was scrubbed from the high school’s gymnasium floor in an estimated $30,000 project to expunge the Indian mascot from the school. “Any mascot and any reflection of Willie the Warrior has been retired,” North Douglas School District Superintendent John Lahley told the paper.
The school will remain the Warriors sans a mascot for the time being.
The recent shift away from Indian mascots across the U.S. comes on the heels of an increase of social science that has found Indian mascots and logos harm the mental health of children. In 2005, the American Psychological Association called for all Indian mascots to be dropped.
Culture Editor Simon Moya-Smith contributed to this report.