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Defining Pride: Lamar Savages

Posted at 9:09 PM, Aug 13, 2020

LAMAR — Driving into Lamar, you can immediately sense there is big pride in this small town of around 8,000 people. "Savage" pride.

"Whenever Savage comes to mind, I think Warrior," resident John Owens said. "We don't stop on the football field, we just push through it. Fighting all the way until the end."

Four years ago, the state commissioned an American Indian Representation Study and recommended Lamar eliminate its mascot and any derogatory names or images.

However, most people in the Southeastern Colorado town say their famed nickname is anything but offensive.

"Makes me proud to be a Savage when I go out and have something with Savages on it," resident Alvaro Canales said. "Makes me happy and proud of it."

The "Savage" nickname dates back to at least 1910 and some believe in light of recent events, it's time for the town to make a change.

"I understand it's a symbol of our local community but I can also see the ramifications of someone trying to create change and can be I believe, harmful to indigenous people," resident Mykinthia Ebron said.

A group called #Lamarproud brought a petition of more than one thousand signatures, some from the Native American community, to a Lamar school board meeting last month. The intention of the members was to push for a name change in the coming year.

On a loaded docket, which included safety for the new school year during a pandemic and the search for a new superintendent, the petition was not a priority for board members and the discussion was tabled.

"Those names are too loaded to justify," Colorado College Professor of Anthropology and Yaqui descendant Christina Leza said.

"I'd say about 50% of community residents are for maintaining the "Savage" pride symbol and the other half are ready for change," Ebron said.

As the national discussion continues on effecting change in U.S. sports from the pros to the preps, some wonder if the prideful town of Lamar will reflect deeper on their small part of the bigger conversation.

"If you really want to somehow engage with the history and continued presence of the Native American people in the region and have that be a proud part of your school culture, there needs to be more conversation and consideration of how that can be done," Leza said.