Change the Chieftain mascot of Bellefontaine City Schools

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It is time for the Bellefontaine City School Administration to change their Chieftain mascot and end the many forms of cultural appropriation that has stemmed from it. The harm that this mascot, as well as others like it, have on Indigenous communities can be best explained by John Two-Hawks, an activist and member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe. He stated “for starters, they insult. More importantly, they cause our children to feel embarrassed and ashamed of who they are. On a larger scale, ‘Indian’ mascots serve to trivialize us as a people”. The use of our Chieftain mascot is aiding in the spread of unrealistic stereotypes that people have created of Indigenous people. 

It is unjust and hypocritical for a predominantly white community to use this term after our ancestors have stolen Native land, brutally murdered and raped Natives, and forced survivors into schools where they were stripped of their culture, language, and traditions. The Bellefontaine City School district has allowed students to “dress as Indians'' with headdresses, braids, and face paint for sports team photos. The elementary school has also used paper feathers, to be put on a headdress, to recognize the positive behavior of students. How can our community sit back and continue to culturally appropriate Natives, as if they are not people, but caricatures to be used as props and mascots?

There is no historical significance for this mascot. After extensive research on the Bellefontaine City Schools website, no history behind the use of the Chieftain mascot can be found. The Chieftain mascot is also not honoring the Indigenous people who once lived in Bellefontaine, Ohio. If this was truly a mark of honor, the whole town of Bellefontaine would know, and be taught, every detail about the history of the Myammia and Hopewell tribes, whose land we now live on. Instead of a mascot, we should honor Natives by teaching our students the true, unaltered history of the tribes that lived in Logan County and why they are no longer found here. 

The use of this mascot in 2020 shows the failure of the United States and Ohio’s education system on correctly teaching about Indigenous tribes and the racism that has plagued them since Europeans “found” the Americas. How can the very systems that aim to educate the children in our community be responsible for fueling cultural appropriation and racism?

Please join us in our fight to change this demeaning mascot to one that better reflects the values that Bellefontaine claims to have. The Chieftain mascot enforces harmful racial stereotypes and hides the brutality that Natives have faced on this very land. Bellefontaine City Schools must recognize the wrongdoings of the past and actively work to change for the better. By signing this petition to remove the Chieftain mascot, you are making it clear that racism has no place in this district.

Thank you for your support,

Lilli LeVan and Caroline Eader