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Roseburg High’s ‘Indians’ mascot narrowly retained

A controversial Native American-themed mascot will be kept at Roseburg High School for the indefinite future.

School board members had to unanimously approve a motion to eliminate the “Roseburg Indians”, and the vote fell one short of that at a meeting last week.  Director Charles Lee was the dissenting vote.

Amanda Mendoza is a member of Roseburg High’s Class of 2001, and is of Muskogee Creek, Choctaw, and Cherokee heritage.  For the past year, she’s circulated a petition to have the “Indians” removed, as major sports franchises in Washington D.C. and Cleveland have done with their Native American-themed team names.  Talking to KLCC, Mendoza shared her disappointment with the meeting’s outcome.

“It’s a system that continues to fail students and families of color, or who identify outside the white dominant culture.  I know that the mascot will change eventually…some day. But today is not the day.”

Mendoza says research shows Indian-themed mascots harm the well-being of Native American students.  She and other activists will review their next steps.

A proponent of the “Indians” mascot was contacted, but did not commit to an interview for this story.  Roseburg High and the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians have had an agreement to use the mascot since 2017, as allowed under Oregon state law.  Backers say the mascot honors Native Americans, and is a long-standing tradition at RHS.

Copyright 2021, KLCC.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Brian Bull