McLOUD, Okla. – The board of education in a small central Oklahoma town has voted to keep a controversial mascot after a long and contentious session of public comment.
McLoud High School will still be known as the ‘Redskins,’ as it has been for generations.
At least two teachers and several members of other indigenous tribes pushed for changing a symbol they said was inappropriate and hurtful.
“I was brought in to teach a geography class, because students were referred to as ‘dumb Redskins and subhuman,'” said Woodrow Wilson, who also noted that he knows of at least one family that no longer participates in school events because of the mascot.
Others, including leaders of a fight to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day in Oklahoma City, accused the school of violating its own non-discrimination ordinance and standing “on the wrong side of history.”
The crowd for the meeting was over capacity.
Many sat on the floor.
Some stood outside the building peeking through the blinds and straining to hear testimony.
The tension and emotion in the room was evident.
Several speakers on both sides were moved to tears.
Supporters of the school’s mascot became agitated when several opponents talked longer than their allotted two minutes.
In response, a teary and frustrated 14-year-old girl gave the crowd the middle finger and stormed away from the podium.
Ultimately, the school board sided with tradition and the members of the community who seemed to be overwhelmingly behind the Redskins.
“We’ve got a lot of history,” said Albert Baldwin, 74, a life-long resident of McLoud. “I don’t know anyone around here that objects to being a Redskin. If there is, I don’t know about it.
MHS senior and valedictorian Alyxandra Moon agrees, adding it’s only become a hot button issue recently.
“Everyone’s really trying to fight for this,” she said. “I can see both sides, but this is our home and, for as long as I can remember, we’ve been the Redskins.”
Other supporters argued changing the name would break tradition and a common historical bond, noting the local Kickapoo population supported the name.
Three of the four board members present voted for keeping the mascot.
Anetta Abbott abstained, citing a desire to put the issue to the voters instead of the school board.
Vice President James Branscum said his “yes” vote reflected how his constituents and the indigenous population felt.