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Union Public Schools reconsidering name of its mascot

Union High School to hold in-person graduation in May 2021, with virtual option
Posted at 3:54 PM, Jul 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-06 23:23:14-04

TULSA, Okla. — The Union Public Schools Board of Education is reconsidering the district's name of its "Redskins" mascot.

The board plans to hear a proposal to reevaluate the mascot on Monday, July 13, at 7 p.m. at the Education Service Center, according to a news release by the district.

We have been having conversations internally for quite some time about the possibility of making a change. Many, both inside and outside our community, have had conflicting emotions over the years regarding Union’s mascot, and we strongly believe that now is the time to take up this issue once again. My recommendation to the Board on Monday will be that we form a committee to study the issue. They will study the mascot issue and then make a final recommendation to the School Board.
Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler

Union’s board last considered the mascot issue 17 years ago during the 2002-03 school year, according to the news release. The board decided to keep the Union Redskins name.

“However, it is important that we reconsider this name to see if it aligns with the district’s core values that we have today,” said Hartzler. “If the Board agrees to move forward with this proposal, the committee will be tasked with making a recommendation regarding the name.”

"Redskins” has been the Union Public Schools mascot since 1945.

Scott Jones is a Native American who graduated from Union High School in 1994. He said the 75-year history of the mascot is why it should stay.

“It’s about family," Jones said. "Honestly. We’re a family of being a union graduate. Whether you’re a union graduate from the 50s, 60s, 70s, or 80s, you’re family. You stick together. You fight for this.”

Those against the name point to its history linked to the scalping of Native Americans, saying it’s a dehumanizing term that holds a lot of pain.

“They want us to dance," said Quese IMC. "They want to see our jewelry. They want to go to the casinos. They want to skip hundreds of years of oppression and pain and genocide and jump to the celebration.”

Before it was the Redskins, Union’s mascots were the Hornets and Cornhuskers.

However, Michelle Nickols, who graduated from Union in 1988, said the current name is a huge part of the union legacy and is not intended to be negative toward any race.

“It would diminish all the things that we stood for for all of these years as far as being a family, being a community, being proud of who we are and what we represent," Nickols said.

Ashley McCray said the name is harmful to young Native Americans and that the past shouldn’t be forgotten.

"The reality is that they cannot be divorced from the historical context which is very much violence against indigenous people, anti-indigeneity, and leading into genocide," McCray said.

This comes after the Washington Redskins announced Friday that it's conducting a review of the team's nickname at the request of two major corporate sponsors.

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