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Monday, August 10, 2020

Nearly 80 Ohio School Districts Use Native American Names and Mascots, 13 Consider Changing

Posted By on Mon, Aug 10, 2020 at 10:08 AM

  • Cuyahoga Heights High School

A Columbus Dispatch report published this weekend polled the athletic programs of 79 Ohio school districts that use Native American team names and mascots. Motivated by changes in professional sports and by national conversations around racial justice, at least thirteen of them are considering changes.

The Dispatch found that three districts in Cincinnati had already changed their names and that five districts statewied had de-emphasized Native logos or branding. Among them, surely, is Cuyahoga County's Fairview Park High School, which last year adopted a new Warrior mascot. Many of the "Warrior" logos at Ohio high schools use Native imagery. Others, like Fairview Park's new one, employ a Spartan or Trojan theme.

In 2018, the Talawanda School District in western Ohio removed their Native American mascot and changed their name from "Braves" to the more abstract "Brave." That decision was preceded by a letter from the Native American Rights Fund detailing the harmful effects of the mascot.

The Dispatch reported that in Cuyahoga County, Cuyahoga Heights High School is one of the schools considering a name change. Cuyahoga Heights uses the same racial slur formerly used by the Washington pro football team.

When Scene reached out to superintendent Tom Evans, he said he had no comment.

"We are 100-percent focused on preparing to open school under the current circumstances," he said. "Once that happens we will reopen the discussion and present a plan."

Unmentioned in the Dispatch report was nearby Parma Senior High School, which has already begun a series of virtual community conversations around its name and mascot: the "Redmen." Superintendent Charles Smialek told Scene that the district wanted to gather perspectives from students, alumni and the community before announcing a decision about a potential change.

"To this point, with little exception, the meetings have been both passionate and respectful," he said.

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