Change Keller High School’s Offensive Mascot

Change Keller High School’s Offensive Mascot

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I’m reviving the petition to change the racist and offensive “Indian” mascot of Keller High School. I have seen the positive steps of action that schools like Richland High (formerly Richland Rebels) and Arlington Martin (removing insensitive Native American mascot and headdress logos) have taken and I want to keep that momentum going for justice in my hometown.

The original petition from 2017 started by the Society of Native Nations only had around 2,000 supporters. And the petition to keep the mascot had 10,000. An ethnicity is not a mascot. A native headdress is not for non-natives to use as their logos. A school cannot stand against racism and teach their students how to shut racism down in their surroundings while actively promoting an insensitive caricature of an entire culture. 

Racism is in every little thing. If we let one racist action or symbol slide, we become complacent. If a culture says it’s racist, your job is not to say “well you should feel honored.” You cannot be the last school toting a racist mascot when so many teams and schools are already moving forward. Social and racial justice is long overdue and it starts in your school. Stop romanticizing racist traditions. An offensive mascot is not “A Tradition of Excellence”, Keller ISD.

The following is from the original petition by the Society of Native Nations: This petition has been created to advocate for the Superintendent of Keller ISD to change the mascot at Keller High School, located in Keller, TX. We are asking that Keller High School stop the cultural racism and discriminatory educational practices towards Native American Indians

There are several reasons why the Indigenous people of this land should not be made into caricatures or mascots but most importantly, “I am not your mascot”. “We are not your mascot” "No people, race, culture, religion or spirituality should not be a mascot". Native Americans are Human Beings that are alive today, whose Ancestors survived genocide and died to protect our traditional way of life. It is said that this mascot and others are to “Honor Us”. There are other ways to honor the Indigenous people of this continent, such as “Honoring our Treaties” or not bulldozing through our sacred sites. Perhaps starting scholarships to help our youth attend college as we have the highest rates of poverty in the nation. But making Native Americans "people" into mascots or caricatures are not honoring us. It is demeaning and does not properly represent who we are. It has been proven by the American Psychological Association that such mascots, actually harm our youth and teach non-native youth that cultural appropriation is socially acceptable. Furthermore, the use of headdresses within this high school is unacceptable and should not be mimicked as it disrespects what we know to be sacred.

No one's culture should be for sale, nor should it be available for just anyone to take and decide what is “honorable” or “noble” because someone assumes it is acceptable to appropriate a race of people culture and beliefs. The Indigenous people of this land have suffered, been knocked down to their knees, but we are still here and we DO EXIST. Our way of life, our ceremonies, our traditions, our language, our teachings all are very sacred to us and having such a mascot, like the “Keller Indians”, having “Indianettes” or their cheerleaders attempting to dress like we do, having students and supporters painting their faces to look like like Indians perpetuates stereotyping and undermines the true education a student may possibly receive but has been clouded by the school’s ill perception of what an Indigenous person is.

            We as Native people as well as Non-Native people have come together to address this issue because we are concerned and appalled that even in today’s time, some of our schools are still teaching our children racism and desensitizing them from racial stereotypes of Native American’s which leads to racist bullying, discrimination, depression, cultural issues, and low self-esteem issues among our children. Many Native American Indian children exposed to this type of cultural racism will grow to be ashamed of who they are and their cultural identity because of this abuse. Educational institutions and teachers have a professional responsibility to eliminate racism in all aspects of school life; schools and teachers should not ignore multicultural issues in school but rather address them to provide a more positive learning environment for all students.

Having the children play dress up in stereotypical cartoon character-like costumes beating a hand drum, carrying a play tomahawk, feather fans or headdresses, painting faces, doing the tomahawk chops, hand over the mouth yelling or putting their hand up in the air and saying “how” are examples of inauthentic representations of American Indian cultures. Many school officials claim they are honoring American Indians and insist that their school's sponsored activities are not offensive. We argue otherwise, and contend that these racist activities are forms of cultural violence in schools. Of course, many school administrators are all too familiar with the current legal and educational battles toward eliminating Indian mascots, logos, nicknames, and antics from school-related events. The US Commission on Civil Rights (CAR), the highest official governmental body of its kind, issued a strong statement in 2001 recommending that schools eliminate Indian images and nicknames as sports symbols.10 Grassroots efforts of thousands of American Indian parents nationwide prompted this decision among CAR members. Moreover, the critical mass of American Indian educational organizations and professionals supported the CAR too. Indian educators showed school officials that negative images, symbols, and behaviors play a crucial role in distorting and warping American Indian children’s' cultural perceptions of themselves as well as non-Indian children’s' negative attitudes toward and simplistic understanding about American Indian Peoples. Most of these proverbial stereotypes are manufactured racist images that prevent millions of school-age students from understanding the past and current authentic human experience of American Indians

 

As for those that have spoken up to say that they are Native American Indian and do not find this to be offensive.We say to you, IF you do not follow the spirituality of your ancestors, IF you do not follow the teachings of your people, IF you do not do the ceremonies of your people, IF you do not have a people and community you are accountable to that do follow and are connected to their spirituality and ancestors and or, if you follow a foreign religion or mindset, then you are NOT sincere to the ancestors, spirituality, and teachings of Native American Indian people. So you can NOT and should NOT speak for the Native American Indian community on whats best for them or what is offensive to them or not, because you will not understand if you do not know the history and or if you are not connected to the way of life and spirituality of Native American Indian communities that ARE telling you that this type cultural racism and discriminatory educational practices are bad for all people, especially children and must be stopped if we are to have a better future for all people to better understand and respect one another.

Superintendent of Keller ISD, we respectfully request that you remove Keller High School’s mascot. You would not approve of any other race or culture of people being used as a mascot, so please do not do it with our people.