Change the Savannah R-III Schools Mascot- No More Savages

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I am a former student from the Savannah R3 School District- alumna of Minnie Cline Elementary, Savannah Middle School, to Savannah High School. While attending this school, we were never taught the importance or history of the land we stood on. We were never taught about Native Americans in general. The history of our school never seemed important to anyone. I didn't know until much later on that I grew up on the homelands of the Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo), Osage, Kaw (Kansa), and Očeti Šakówiŋ (Sioux).

I did know, however, that the mascot for my school, the one that was painted all over town and used as logo for so many businesses, made me feel ill. The Savannah Savage, complete with the graphic of either the older Chief-in-Headdress or the newer Brave-with-Feather logo. Tomahawk chops at all the sports games. Students in face and body paint, wearing feathers and other native-inspired regalia as costumes.

Changing this name and logo is a huge step in the right direction, and an enormous teachable moment for current and future students. This is a time to educate our community on the importance of history and inclusion of all cultures. I am ashamed to say I went to this high school, that I used to belong to a community that would denigrate people who have been victims of oppression in this way. 

By taking this step, we do not change history or the legacy that of this school, but we can change how our past and current students view us. I want them to be able to look back and not feel ashamed of the blatant racism of their community and school.

Unfortunately, a name change will not change the curriculum, nor will it change the students or faculty that are attending the school; it will not change the academic success or athletic success of the school, but it will change the community and give hope to students and families that may feel like outsiders. Schools are supposed to be inclusive and promote diversity. Savannah R3's continued use of the Savage as a mascot creates a hostile environment for any student of color, but particularly students of Native background. It's time for that to end.

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