(WHTM) — The Susquehanna Township mascot has been a divisive issue that came up again in Monday night’s school board meeting. The district retired the Indians’ name, but the talk continues about bringing it back as the district continues to not have a mascot.
While the old board decided to retire the mascot in May 2021, the new board reversed course. This came after thousands signed a petition online calling for change saying the use of the Indian mascot is offensive to Native Americans and is a harmful stereotype.
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The Mascot & Rebranding Committee recommended that the district change its imagery from the Indians and adopt the Susquehanna Lions (Pride). But in February of this year, a motion to adopt the recommendation failed with a 5-4 vote.
Then, the new board majority talked about bringing back the mascot after they rejected the advisory board’s recommendation. Soon after, they decided to meet with the advisory board again before moving forward.
On Monday night, the idea of bringing back the Indians’ name and logo was discussed, including making changes to the previous mascot and logo. No vote was taken but members of the board majority did indicate they are in favor of the move.
The district superintendent addressed the issue in the meeting.
“It really just comes down to voting your conscience, really,” said superintendent Dr. Tamara Willis. “I don’t know that any argument, whether they’re local, whether they’re from across the country, whether they have their paperwork, whether they don’t have their paperwork, you’re really going to find an argument for any side.”
Willis also said, “If it’s something that you believe regardless of what you’ve heard, it is what it is. I don’t believe that you’ve successfully swayed anyone. I know in previous discussions, we said we needed local Native Americans and they’re the ones that should be telling us what they believe. And when we found those Native Americans who said they do not approve of the name, now we’re considering those who are in other states.”
Susquehanna Township alum James Crews is Native American. He says the board majority remains out of touch.
“It’s a little difficult to keep having to rehash the reasons why these things are hurtful. Your community members who are actually telling you the reasons why, you decide to go on a pilgrimage to a far-off Native reservation to find someone who may agree with your point,” Crews said.
While there was no vote on Monday, the topic did generate a lot of discussion. abc27 reached out to the superintendent and board president, but both were not available for comment.