Montana News

Feb 16, 2011 1:39 PM by Drew Trafton (Billings)

Red Lodge school trustees vote: no more Redskins

After another hour of listening to public comment, the Red Lodge School Board of trustees unanimously voted to remove 'Redskins' as the mascot for the high school.

After making the vote, the crowd, which was largely in favor of the change, gave the board a standing ovation.

Seniors graduating this Spring will still graduate as 'Redskins', but talks of a committee being formed to find a new mascot are underway.

KTVQ was at the meeting; here is how the event went:

6:45 p.m.- People continue to file into the high school. It's going to be another full house. Several people are signing up to comment.

6:50 p.m.- A picture of what tonight's agenda looks like is attached to the story. Go to photos to check it out.

6:55 p.m.- All the trustees have found their seats and only a few scattered seats remain in the public seating section. The public gathered for comment have quieted down, giving the impression that the meeting is about to start.

7:00 p.m.- The Pledge of Allegiance and roll call is taken. The meeting has begun.

7:03 p.m - The public comment period will limit comments to those who have signed up on the sign-up sheet. Comments will be limited to 2 minutes each. It's expected to take 45 minutes for public discussion.

7:05 p.m.- A former Red Lodge teacher opens up the public comment. Three generations of her family have gone through the Red Lodge school system. She speaks strongly in support of dumping 'Redskins' as mascot.

7:07 p.m.- The next speaker-- a man, uses the Pledge of Allegiance to make the point that the Redskins mascot does not include "Liberty and justice for all". He cried delivering an emotional opinion, saying that "white culture" has made him ashamed to be Native American.

7:12 p.m.- One man says he has proof that the first time the term "Redskin" was used, was during a speech given by a Native American chief. He says that the people of Red Lodge had no intent to use "Redskins" as a derogatory term.

7:15 p.m.- One speaker says he believes that the decision to ditch Redskins mascot is nothing but a "political agenda" and has been in the works for a while and that tonight's meeting is nothing more than a formality. The next speaker argues against that point, saying that if community was more responsible as a whole, they would be at these meetings more often and would have had a say earlier in the debate over the mascot change.

7:20 p.m.- One point speakers keep making in support of dropping the mascot is that they collectively have problems telling their children and grandchildren what a 'Redskin' is.

7:22 p.m.- Episcopal priest in Red Lodge speaks on the issue. Says in her church, the basis of faith calls for everyone to respect others feelings while also honoring old traditions.

7:24 p.m.- High School parent and Red Lodge alumni says that she will always be a 'Redskin' but that she will be happy to celebrate something new with the rest of the community. Likens change to changing maiden name after marriage, saying it doesn't change who you are, just what you're called.

7:25 p.m.- So far, only one of the public comments has been in favor of retaining 'Redskins' as mascot.

7:27 p.m.- Speaking to members of the public before the meeting, I was told that if the mascot is changed, a few new nicknames being thrown around town include: Rockies, Rough Riders, Renegades, Miners and Ravens.

7:30 p.m.- Around 80 community members are gathered tonight in the public section.

7:32 p.m- Red Lodge trustee speaks on the issue-- says if one child is offended, than why not change mascot. She also speaks about Billings school district and her granddaughter, who is half Crow, who was singled out by teacher on Martin Luther King Jr. Day for being "brown".

7:34 p.m.- Public comment starting to shift from "will we get rid of mascot?" to "how we will pick new name?"

7:35 p.m.- Last public speaker is a student at Red Lodge High School-- he speaks against keeping 'Redskins' as a mascot. Notes that currently, the cheer team doesn't even use the mascot 'Redskins' in cheer.

7:36 p.m.- Board of trustees now deliberating vote. One board member calls for community to rally behind decision. Says not ever in his memory have board members been threatened, even when the decision to build a new high school was up for deliberation, to the degree they have been over changing the school mascot.

7:41 p.m.- Board members deliberation draws standing ovation from crowd. Strong sense that change is on the way. Vote forthcoming.

7:45 p.m.- Motion to vote made.

7:45p.m.- Vote to motion to find new mascot and to embrace Redskins mascot until new mascot is found. Discussion currently pending.

7:46 p.m.- Vote from the Red Lodge School Board is unanimous: Red Lodge High School WILL change mascot.

7:48 p.m.- Mascot change prompts standing ovation from crowd.

7:50 p.m.- Input being gathered by board for new mascot names; a committee to be formed on finding a new mascot. Seniors this year at Red Lodge High School will graduate as Redskins.

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