Native Americans bring Anderson High mascot concerns to board | Education

ANDERSON — At the Anderson Community Schools board meeting Tuesday night, two members of the American Indian Movement approached the board with concerns about Anderson High School’s Indian mascot.

“We are here to hold this school district and all other public institutions accountable (for removing) Indigenous mascots from school systems,” said Rachel Thunder.

She explained that these types of mascots perpetuate racial stereotyping and cultural appropriation.

“(They) negatively impact the identity and psychological development of our Indigenous children and create a negative learning environment for all children,” Thunder said.

“The symbols, images and mascot teach non-Indigenous children that it is okay to participate in culturally abusive behavior and perpetuate inaccurate misconceptions about our people and our sacred practices.”

Thunder further noted that the district says it values ​​cultural understanding, diversity and equity, but she said it continues to portray Indigenous people in a prejudicial way.

Maria WarPath explained that she has school-aged children who are exposed to Indigenous mascots and other related imagery.

“My daughter was called a prairie n-word at her school.”

Her daughter is not a student at Anderson Community Schools.

WarPath noted that the district says it continues to use the Indian mascot because it has done so for over 50 years.

“It’s our images. It’s our people. It’s our culture. And to you, it’s a mascot. It’s unacceptable.”

Thunder further explained that many Native groups, including the Delaware-Lenape, oppose any use of Native mascots.

“We demand that you change your mascot and until you do, and other Indiana schools do, we’re not going to stop.”

At the start of the meeting, Superintendent Joe Cronk informed the community that the ACS was conducting an internal review of all the ways it uses the Indian mascot.

“Things like statues, carvings on buildings, letterheads, team uniforms (or) signs in a gymnasium,” he said.

Once the internal review is complete, the district will provide a report to both the Delaware Indian Tribe and the Delaware Nation and discuss with them where and how to move forward, Cronk said.

In March, Brad Meadows, director of district and community engagement at ACS, said the district expects the internal review to be completed by the end of April. After that, the district would conduct an external review.

To follow Kylee Mullikin on Twitter @kyleemullikinhb or call 765-640-4250.

Nohemi M. Moore