Better late then never. According to Pantagraph.com, Illinois’ Bloomington High School Purple Raiders have put the last artifact from the school’s nearly 30-year use of an American Indian as their mascot up for sale. A nearly life-sized statue of an American Indian that was a gift from the class of 1989 (each year, the senior class donates a gift to the school) and has stood in a glass cabinet in the school’s library will be auctioned off at the annual BHS Boosters steak fry tomorrow, reported Pantagraph.com. Apparently the school district looked into options for finding the statue a new home, which included the McLean County Museum of History, but ended up deciding to donate the statue to the booster club, which will share the proceeds from the auction with this year’s senior class.
The team will keep the name Purple Raiders, but they will have no visual connection to American Indians. The school board voted in 2001 to retire the American Indian image from all aspects of the school, including a medallion that had an American Indian face in profile hung on the exterior wall. The medallion was also donated to the boosters in 2002 and sold at auction.
District 87 Superintendent Barry Reilly, who was the school’s principal in the summer of 2001, said that the school board decided to discontinue the use of the American Indian image because of the increasing mood in Indian Country and the nation at large that the use of such mascots is racially and culturally insensitive.
“We weren’t pioneers,” Reilly told Pantagraph.com, “but [we] did it early on.”