Change the Name - Demand Wapakoneta Schools to Change Mascot

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Dictionary.com Definition of the Word R*dskin:  "Noun. Older slang: Disparaging or Offensive. A contemptuous term used to refer to a North American Indian" 

Inspired by the recent name change by the Washington NFL team, there have been conversations started all over the country about racist and outdated team names. A past alumni posted on Facebook calling for action from Wapakoneta City Schools to change their name from the racial slur R*dskins. The writers of this petition, Michelle Bellman and Erin Engle, are past alumni who graduated from Wapakoneta in 2015.  Along with many other past alumni, we agree that it is time for a change. 


Superintendent Aaron Rex at Wapakoneta City Schools spoke in an interview on July 13th stating, “At Wapakoneta we have always believed that our representation of Native Americans and their history in our area has been done with a great deal of respect.” We understand that no one is going out of their way to be disrespectful in our school system or town. However, the traditions Wapakoneta City schools have always held are not respectful towards the Native stories and lives we still profit off of. Below there are further links that explain why these traditions are not respectful, but rather hateful and racist. This conversation is most often white individuals talking with other white individuals about how Natives feel. These links bring Native voices into this conversation. Please read them.

Aaron Rex also states, “Wapakoneta has a great deal to be proud of, as you know.” Those who are for the name change completely agree and that is why we are fighting for it! Wapakoneta is home to the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong. It has produced many great and successful alumni and is home to many great people. However, holding onto a racist mascot is not something to be proud of. We have all participated in, benefited from, and been ignorant to what this mascot represents. We have also learned and can move on from the past without repeating its mistakes. Going into the future, we should celebrate what makes Wapakoneta a good place to be and leave a hateful and racist history behind. 

Where many past alumni understand that superintendent Aaron Rex believes he is coming from a good place, it is one that speaks on behalf of Native Americans. Many locals, alumni, and current students do not support this belief and understand R*dskin is a racial slur. The “traditions” our school holds appropriate the culture of Native Americans and do not in any way honor them. The Tomahawk chop is an offensive chant, we have white students dressing up in sacred ceremonial headdresses, and we benefit and profit off of the image of a Native Chief. 

Moving forward, Wapakoneta will need to have an open conversation. We understand the teams and games are tied with a great deal of nostalgia for everyone, but we cannot let this keep us from change. We are only asking to change the name, mascot, and racist traditions. We understand rebranding is an expensive ordeal and don’t expect this to be done overnight. This is something that should be a collaborative conversation. If possible, there can be a donation link set up for the rebranding and a collaborative discussion on what the new name will be. 


If you support the ideas listed in this petition please sign and provide any comment you may have. Share with friends, family, and anyone you believe may support this cause, and post the petition and your thoughts with the hashtag #ChangetheName on all social media. 

Email the members of the Wapakoneta School Board asking for change: mertro@wapak.org, sammwi@wapak.org, cossbr@wapak.org, littjo@wapak.org, ruppgr@wapak.org


Important Links

Native Speaker on the Issue: 

"Dear white people, stop telling Native Americans like me whether we're offended by the Washington Redskins."

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/washington-redskins-name-controversy-native-americans-racism-white-people-a9058881.html?fbclid=IwAR2eAFGtU1PxkDZE5rFBXAZelQDrTeiP8OzCd-XQsryy5Y25Fw3Fo9aRv4w


Superintendent Aaron Rex’s Interview with the Lima News: 

"Wapakoneta to Keep Name."

https://www.limaohio.com/sports/418222/wapakoneta-to-keep-name?fbclid=IwAR0GnITJrkJ6deAL24R2PIQV3lh_t5s9fklFiFG6ACzR6KCGJWmE5XovEEw


Native Activists to Follow: 

"10 Native American Activists You Should Know."

https://medium.com/tmi-consulting-inc/10-native-american-activists-you-should-know-e9d7c7fb78c2


NDN Initiative:

https://ndncollective.org/

Why R*dskin is a Slur

"What Native Americans Think of the Word Redskin" (2014)

https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-30314290

"Why Redskin is a Bad Word" (2015)
https://time.com/4070537/redskins-linguistics/

Redskin Native American One Word Association: https://youtu.be/M8r8cQNpWt4