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Mascot issue back before Board

A mascot for Del Norte High School will once again be discussed at a School Board meeting.

Del Norte Unified School District Superintendent Don Olson will give a short presentation Thursday detailing school mascot history, the controversy behind it and what is being done to resolve the issue.

The Board meets at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the Education Center Building, Curriculum & Instruction Center, 301 W. Washington Blvd.

 

The mascot controversy came up at the Board’s Aug. 9 meeting over equipment bags being used by the Del Norte Youth Football League emblazoned with the profile of a Plains Indian. The logo depicted a warrior with a single feather instead of a chief with full headdress, which was Del Norte High School’s logo until it was eliminated by the School Board in 1998. 

Olson said his presentation will cover why the mascot was changed in the 1997-1998 school year. He said it’s up to the Del Norte High School student body to choose a mascot.

“We’ll offer whatever assistance we can,” he said. “We have developed mascots in the past, but it’s never been able to become completed.”

About four to five years ago a professional graphic artist developed ideas for a mascot logo, Olson said. For example, he said, one mascot that did very well still carried the name Del Norte Warriors, but some found it offensive because it was depicted holding a sword. 

A high school leadership committee working on the mascot will hold its first meeting next week, Olson said. 

“I believe the best way for the mascot issue to be resolved would be to develop or have the student body select a mascot that is more than likely new,” he said. “We understand they want to be the Del Norte Warriors; if we can come up with a new warrior mascot it will help resolve this ongoing issue.”

At the Aug. 9 meeting, tribal members from the Smith River Rancheria, the Elk Valley Rancheria and the Yurok Tribe spoke out both for and against the Indian head logo. Some argued that the image is a source of price. Others said that it symbolizes ignorance and was eliminated by the Board for good reason.

The Del Norte Youth Football League is not affiliated with the school district, but uses school grounds for practices and games and has used the Warrior name for the past three years.

According to Steve Godla, assistant superintendent of instruction and educational services, there was never a consensus among students, parents and Board members as to what kind of mascot they would like to see.

“We need to get to a point where it doesn’t surface every three to four years as an argument and if we return back to the warrior head we know that’s going to return every other year as an argument,” Godla said.

In other matters, Board members will discuss a memorandum of understanding with the Smith River Rancheria on how a Tolowa language program at the high school will be funded.

Board will also discuss a change to the district’s bullying policy. According to Olson, the change has to do with retaliation against those who witness bullying. He added that the district will not tolerate any retaliation against someone who has reported bullying.

 


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