Wellpinit High School discusses mascot after Redskins controversy




Posted on June 18, 2014 at 7:12 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 18 at 7:13 PM

Is Redskin an appropriate name for a mascot?

WELLPINIT, Wash.-- When the U.S. Patent Office canceled the Washington Redskins' trademark in June, the controversy brought attention to the Redskins mascot at  Wellpinit High School.

Wellpinit High School was among 50 high schools in the nation using the "Redskins" mascot. A western Washington school voted to quit using the name in 2013, making Wellpinit the only Redskins left in the state of Washington.

Wellpinit superintendent Tim Ames said there were two viewpoints on the reservation about the name. One group took pride in it, while another wanted it abolished.

READ: Redskins trademarks canceled by U.S. Patent Office

“A lot of families [have] identified it with pride and have never seen it as a derogatory comment,” said Ames. “We also have a part in our community that's interested in educating ourselves about what the Redskin name means and how it will impact students as it's considered a derogatory name.”

Ames said he received a call from USA Today in 2005 asking why the school continued to use the Redskin mascot.  The issue came up again in March 2013 when the Washington Redskins controversy received national attention.

Ames said the conversation started-up again in June, though it did not create a community uproar. Ames said the governing body on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit approached the school district about educating people about what the Redskins name meant and potentially changing it.

“I can tell you, nobody has point blank said to me, ‘Tim that's an offensive name in our community.’" Ames explained. "Even when I met with the Elders, they are even more intrigued by changing it. Their point was, 'If we were to name our selves today, would we use the Redskins name?' And they said, 'probably not'.”

Wellpinit School District employee John Teters said he did not approve of the mascot name.

“I will not buy a shirt that says Redskins on it,” said Teters.

Teters said the name was inappropriate in this day and age and needed to be changed.

Ames said the next step would be for the school board to have a community discussion about the name and then decide on whether or not to change it, based on the overall consensus.