When the issue of changing the Capitol Hill High School mascot—Redskins—was brought before a meeting of the Oklahoma City school board yesterday, Oklahoma Gazette reporter Ben Felder tweeted that “over half of the audience” rose to their feet in support.
The writing was on the wall for the 88-year-old mascot, a symbol of a school in the heart of Indian Territory with a student body that is 4% Native American.
“I could tell by the temperature of the room and the pulse of everybody in this meeting that the mascot was not going to win,” J. Don Harris, a representative of the school’s alumni assiciation, later told NewsOK.com.
Star Yellowfish, the district’s administrator for American Indian student services, was among those who argued the case for changing the name. “I was actually surprised about how well-received it was,” she told NewsOK.com. “I thought that I would have to do more education on our end to let them learn about the word. But they get it. They got it, and they care about our kids.”
The board voted 8-0 to change the name, and reports and photos from the scene portray a mood of jubilation among the Natives in attendance.
Oklahoma Gazette’s Ben Felder spoke with the board’s chair, Lynne Hardin, who said that, growing up in Oklahoma City, she was not aware that the name was considered offensive. “But once you know, you can’t go back,” she added. The board will form a committee to select a new name.
In a statement, the anti-mascot activist organization Change the Mascot connected the turn of events to a higher-profile situation: “Washington’s NFL team and its owner Dan Snyder, who insist upon continuing to slur people of color with the R-word, could certainly learn a lot from the conscientious community in Oklahoma City.”
Here’s a video of Star Yellowfish’s remarks at the meeting: