A wooden statue of an American Indian Chief representing an Indiana school's "Redskins" mascot has been removed from the gym temporarily for a graduation ceremony to avoid offending anyone who finds it objectionable.
Goshen High School in Goshen, Indiana, has made the decision to remove their "Redskin" statue for their June 9 graduation, but it's only a temporary move. There are no plans to make the removal permanent, nor will the "Redskins" nickname or logo change. The gym's floor features an Indian head logo, which will be present during graduation, despite the removal of the statue, as will logos and "Redskin" text on the walls. It's unclear how those who would find the statue objectionable would be okay with the remaining items.
Goshen Community Schools Superintendent Diane Woodworth issued a press release about the statue's removal for graduation.
"On May 5 & 6, The Goshen News ran cover articles regarding the Goshen High School mascot, the 'Redskins.' As most people are aware, there is a national conversation that surrounds the use of mascots that relate to Native Americans. For example, there is currently a legal complaint in Michigan, brought by the Department of Civil Rights against the 35 Michigan schools that use Native American nicknames.
"Obviously, there are strong feelings in Goshen that surround this concern, from numerous points of view, and there have been for many years. As a matter of fact, some years ago the Athletic Council asked that the Indian chief head not be placed on athletic uniforms any longer. In addition, they recommended that a painting of an Indian head be removed from the GHS gym and from the gym floor, so as to be less obtrusive to those people who might be offended by the mascot. However, around the same time, there was a study committee that did decide to keep the mascot.
"As the current administration is preparing the GHS gym for the 2013 graduation, the decision was made to temporarily remove a wooden statue of an Indian chief that was in the gym in order to be respectful of the many differing viewpoints on this issue, and in light of the past Athletic Council recommendations. There has been no official action by the school board or by the administration at this point to change the mascot. There might be consideration given to studying this topic in the future, but at this time of the school year, there are many issues to tackle."
For a local Fox-28 TV segment on the controversy, click here.