End Indian Mascots In Colo. Public Schools, Governor’s Panel Says

April 18, 2016
Photo: Eaton High School mascot gym floor
Eaton High School's Indian mascot is displayed prominently on the gym floor. 

A commission set up by Gov. John Hickenlooper is strongly urging the elimination of derogatory and offensive Indian mascots and imagery in Colorado's public schools. But it favors action based on building relationships with Indian tribes rather than legislation.

An estimated 30 Colorado schools have Indian mascots. The commission, which spent five months looking into the controversy, recommended that those schools host public forums to review their use. 

"There should be a public forum to reexamine the purpose of their mascot, how it originated in an honest and productive way, that’s where things start," said Jeff Rasp,  co-chair of the commission and a principal at Strasburg High School. 

From the report:

Rasp's own school, whose nickname is "The Indians," was among four visited by the commission. The others were Loveland (Indians), Lamar (Savages), and Eaton (Reds). Strasburg has entered into a relationship with the Arapaho tribe and commissioned a new depiction. As a result, the school will start the process of taking down offensive mascots. 

Commission members said the slower process of education and partnerships lays the groundwork for a much stronger chance of succeeding than requiring schools to change through legislation. 

Rasp said that, "In our opinion, treating Americans respectfully far supersedes local traditions."

Hickenlooper welcomed the commission's findings.

"Once children begin to see the reality of how offensive this is and how harmful some of these names and imagery are, and they start talking about it, in all but a few of the cases, the parents, the rest of the community will follow," the governor said.

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