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Education News


Guilford schools board forbids Indian mascots


News & Record

GREENSBORO -- American Indian mascots will be retired in Guilford County Schools.

The Guilford County Board of Education agreed Tuesday night to create a policy forbidding the use of such mascots. The policy would affect only two schools: the Andrews High School Red Raiders and the Southern High School Indians. Alamance Elementary switched from the Indians to the Wolves at the beginning of this school year.

The board voted 9-1 with member Anita Sharpe dissenting. Board member Garry Burnett was unable to attend because of illness, but board member Susan Mendenhall said he told her he would support eliminating the mascots.

What do you think?

The Guilford County Board of Education is planning to enact a policy banning Indian mascots from its schools. The policy would mean the end to the Red Raiders at Andrews High School and the Indians of Southern High School.

What do you think of this change? E-mail staff writer Bruce Buchanan at

Your Responses:

From Bob Roberts:
"I believe this decision is overdue. American Indian organizations have protested the use of these images for years. The images used as mascots tend to portray a stereotype that is not particularly accurate. The only respectful decision here was to eliminate the usage of Indian Mascots."

From Jere Kannegieter:
"I think it is ridiculous! Some of the mascots have been in place for as long as the school has been around..."Kill The Warriors" was shown on a sign at the board meeting last night. So what? When schools play Page, they display "Kill the Pirates" or whatever other team they are playing. Is this to say that if a group of modern-day pirates were to approach the school board, that Page too would have to change their mascot?
Next I suppose they are going to go to the NFL to have the Washington Redskins changed to some sissy Washington Woodpeckers or something. Some people just have too much time on their hands!"

From Tori Lancaster:
"I think it was a very hasty decision made by the school board. I think it is an honor to American Indians to have themselves represented as mascots. I would have like to have attended a school myself with a Native American mascot. And what about all the money it’s going to cost to change these schools to something else…it’s just ridiculous."

From Jeff Johnson:
"I have never looked at the name of the Southern Guilford "Indians" as being deragatory to Native Americans, but rather to honor them for their bravery, but then I'm not Native American. Maybe Southern should change their mascot to the most feared thing in all of NC..........the orange and white traffic barrel."

From Cindy Register:
"This is just crazy! Many times, a mascot, like the Indians, was chosen because they were known to be strong warriors. It was not meant to be an insult but, yet, a compliment. Also, where is the money coming from to make these changes? Children have to share books at school because there are not enough to go around...every time you turn on the news all you hear is the big "budget crunch." Maybe people should look at the real issues instead of issues that will cost unnecessary spending.

Sharpe voted no because she wants the board to get community response before proceeding with a policy. Other board members said the community could comment during the 30-day period before the policy can be finalized by a board vote.

The issue first came before the board during the summer when the state Board of Education asked schools statewide to reconsider their use of Indian mascots.

Monroe Gilmour, coordinator of the Mascot Education & Action Group based in Asheville, wrote a letter in November to Southern Principal Steve Hodgin asking that the school community rethink how it "honors" a culture with an Indian mascot. {NCMEAG note: See Gilmour's full statement made at the Board of Education meeting 1/13/04)}

If the mascot is honoring that culture, then why aren't there mascots for whites, blacks or Chinese, Gilmour wrote.

"Educators can't ignore American Indian sports mascots," Gilmour told the board Tuesday. The mascots are being eliminated at many schools nationwide through the push by American Indian groups, he said.

In North Carolina, 20 percent of schools that had Indian mascots have retired them, he said. There are about 40 schools remaining with such mascots, Gilmour said.

North Carolina has an American Indian population of about 100,000 with about 18,000 of them in public schools.

Gilmour urged the board to listen to the majority of American Indians who have called for the end of mascots depicting their culture.

Board member Deena Hayes said the mascots are another example of "institutional racism" where a dominant culture imposes its views on a minority group.

"I don't think this is a political correctness issue," she said. "I think it's a humane and justice issue."

Board member Johnny Hodge said he understands what Native Americans are going through.

"I went from ... Negro to black to African American. Now I don't know what I am," he said, eliciting a few laughs.

He added the board needs to "stop being hypocritical and address the issue. We have a tendency to put things that are important to our constituency under cover. You got to look at life as it is now."

Loretta Jennings, president of the Guilford County Association of Educators and a Native American, was pleased with the board's vote. She agreed with the board's intention to bring Native American groups to the school communities to discuss why the change is needed.

"I think to educate is important," she said.

Amanda Sheek, a Lumbee Indian and Southern High alumna, volunteered to speak at her old school. She thinks it will be a difficult issue, but it must be addressed.

"I think it's going to be hard to convince any alumni to understand where we're coming from," Sheek said.

Back to NCMEAG Index page

Contact Jennifer Fernandez at or 373-7064.

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