After concerned parent Lloyd Elling sent a letter to the editor to DelmarvaNow.com requesting the Indian River School District remove its Indian head mascot, the school board voted. It unanimously decided to keep the mascot that has represented its schools in and around Dagsboro, Delaware since 1967.
“I went through high school and played sports [at Indian River High School], and what the mascot is and what it represents—that’s what people need to take a look at,” Indian River Principal Mark Steele told DelmarvaNow.com. “We push pride, character, respect and honor, which we all thought were characteristics of the Native American people.”
In his June 12 letter, Elling asked the school district to implement a mascot that does not “teach students how to stereotype a group of people on the basis of race, religion, ancestry and cultural ethnicity.”
Steele says the eight components of enhancing learning are listed on the Indian chief’s feathers, which to him represents Native Americans in a respectful way.
“We tie it into our instructional focus,” Steele said. “We push the fact we are the Indians. We uphold strong honor, character and respect, something very dear and important to us.”
And the Nanticoke Indian Tribe, located in Delaware, says the mascot is fitting for Indian River.
“The [Wilmington High School] Red Devils is more offensive,” Herman Robbins, the tribe’s chief, told DelmarvaNow.com. “Red devil is someone evil and wicked. We are not taking sides with [Elling]. We don’t find it offensive.”