COLORADO SPRINGS — In a 4-1 vote, the Board of Education for Cheyenne Mountain School District 12 decided Monday to retire its Native American mascot and team name by the end of the school year.
During the meeting, board members introduced a resolution to do away with both the mascot and team name. It would also establish a committee of students and stakeholders to determine replacements for the next school year.
Many have protested over the last six months over whether or not Cheyenne Mountain High School's "Indians" mascot needs to be changed. This all started in September 2020 when the Board of Education adopted a draft resolution looking to phase out the Indian as a mascot and team name by Aug. 1, 2021.
Dozens of demonstrators gathered outside of the board meeting to show their support for the removal of the mascot. Supporters chose not to attend in person but called in for public comment. Ahead of the meeting, demonstrators said they decided to switch the protest to a celebration since they were sure board members would vote yes. Shouts of joy and drums followed District 12's decision to change Cheyenne Mountain High School's mascot and team name.
During Monday's meeting, board members introduced a new resolution that would do away with the mascot and team name at the end of the school year. It would also direct the administration to establish a student and stakeholder process to determine the replacement. Students will meet with the school soon to determine the new mascot. They're expecting something bird-related.
There is currently a bill in the legislature that would force schools to change Indians mascots and imagery. SB21-116 would not only prohibit the use of American Indian mascots but impose a monthly $25,000 fine for schools that continue to use them past June 1, 2022, payable to the state education fund.
According to the legislation, the presence and use of American Indian mascots across the state creates an unsafe learning environment for American Indian students by having serious negative impacts on those student's mental health and by promoting bullying of American Indian students.
It goes on to say it teaches students inaccurate information about American Indian culture and teaches them that it is acceptable to participate in culturally abusive and prejudicial behaviors.
Back in September, two Colorado schools in Loveland retired their Native American mascots after years of community debate and a petition by high school students to remove images they consider racist and demeaning to the Native American community. The move came amid a nationwide movement to change Native American symbols and names in sports.