TULSA, Okla. — Two Tulsa high schools could be getting new mascots.
The Daniel Webster "Warriors" and the Central "Braves" could be changing as mascots at the two schools. A Tulsa Public School survey is asking the public what they think of the mascots after some said they're offensive.
If it was up to Central alum Kirby Counce and Webster alum Donna Savage, the mascots would stay the same. “It’s part of our heritage at Webster," Savage said. "We’re very proud of being Warriors. It’s not considered a mascot. It’s just who we are over there.”
Counce said synonyms for the words show the names don’t have a negative meaning behind them. "It's multiple. Courageous, plucky, fearless, valiant, valorous, intrepid, heroic, lionhearted, bold, daring, adventurous," he said.
However, others say they're offensive to Native Americans.
“It’s not who we want to be portrayed as," said Corey Bunch, executive director for Cherokee Nation Education Services.
Bunch is also a member of the TPS Native American Mascots Review Committee. He said while the names may not be offensive, the imagery, chants and slogans that go along with it can be harmful.
“It does not represent Native people well," Bunch said. "It’s not what we want to be associated with or represented by. We want to be known for our proud and long histories, for our culture, for our traditions, for our language.”
Bunch said the misconception brought on by these mascots can be damaging to young Native students.
“They can actually result in a child having low self-esteem and being ashamed of who they are," Bunch said. "And that’s certainly not what we want to happen in our public school systems. We want our Native children to be proud of who they are.”
The survey was sent out in September; however, Savage said it’s biased, particularly in the section when asked to give three reasons why you want to keep or do away with the mascot.
“But they’re not giving you three positive reasons to choose," Savage said. "And the only positive reason equates out to be sentimental or emotional. And that’s not, there are more reasons than that to keep the mascot.”
It could be a while before a decision is made, but Counce, who is also a member of the mascots review committee, said he would support changing the imagery if it meant staying the Braves.
“I would fully back anything that would allow us to pay respect to our Native, Indigenous, First Nations people, pay respect to them and allow us to keep our name," Counce said.
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