WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Nearly two dozen Kansas schools could be getting a new mascot. That’s if they were to follow a new recommendation from the Kansas Board of Education to remove all Native American mascots.
“It’s a lot of buzz in our small community,” said Tyler Parks, communication coordinator for Liberal USD 480.
USD 480 is home to the Liberal Redskins; one of two Kansas High Schools to have that mascot.
“It’s been brought up in the past and met with local resistance,” Parks said. “This is a name that’s been in the community for a very, very long time. Generations. So it will be interesting moving forward.”
Other mascots being encouraged to change include the Indians, warriors, thunderbirds, and red raiders, to name a few.
“I understand both issues, but for USD 398, the warrior mascot is a source of pride and respect,” said Superintendent Antoinette Root, Peabody-Burns USD 398.
Whether or not to change their mascot is a conversation that’s already happening in Hays.
“We’ve sent out surveys to our community and are planning to have a community conversation actually next Tuesday,” said Superintendent Ron Wilson, Hays USD 489.
Wilson said the discussion started after passing a bond in May. USD 489 will be building a new high school. Before construction begins, the district wanted to make sure the community is okay with the Indian mascot.
“We want to listen to people and be respectful and appropriate and just come to somewhat of a consensus of this is who we are, and this is who we represent,” Wilson said,
For some schools, their mascots are tied to history.
“Satanta was a Kiowa Chief. So there’s lots of street names, landmarks, and works in town that bears the heritage of the Kiowa tribe,” explained Superintendent Michael Ward, USD 507 Satanta.
Since it’s only a recommendation, the decision will be left up to each district.
“The most important thing is communication, talking, having the difficult conversations, and understanding both points of views and how to best approach it in our own community,” Parks said.
Liberal will be bringing the topic up in their next BOE meeting on Dec. 5.