http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgStand Watie Elementary School is named after Confederate Brigadier Gen. Stand Watie, who was Cherokee. SWE is one of four schools in Oklahoma City that bears the name of Confederate leaders. The schools’ names may be up for discussion to be renamed. The OKC Board of Education was expected take up the issue on Sept. 5. PAUL HELLSTERN/THE OKLAHOMAN
Stand Watie Elementary School is named after Confederate Brigadier Gen. Stand Watie, who was Cherokee. SWE is one of four schools in Oklahoma City that bears the name of Confederate leaders. The schools’ names may be up for discussion to be renamed. The OKC Board of Education was expected take up the issue on Sept. 5. PAUL HELLSTERN/THE OKLAHOMAN

OKC superintendent seeks input on schools named after Confederates

BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
09/07/2017 08:00 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY – During an August press conference, OKC Public Schools Superintendent Aurora Lora said she would ask for public input before deciding whether to rename four elementary schools that are named after Confederate leaders.

The announcement followed a fatal altercation in Charlottesville, Virginia, when white supremacists and counter protestors clashed over the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

In a statement, Lora said the OKC board of education would have to approve any consultation with the public in each of the school districts concerning the possible name changes.

“We recognize that the historical names of some of our facilities are not names that reflect our values in 2017,” she said. “OKCPS leadership will take direction from the board of education regarding any discussion or recommendations to rename schools in the district, according to board policy.”

The four schools under consideration for name changes are Lee Elementary School, Jackson Elementary School, Wheeler Elementary School and Stand Watie Elementary School.

SWE is named after the Brigadier Gen. Stand Watie, who was a Cherokee Nation citizen. The school was established and has been named after Watie since 1930, according to the school’s website.

In the Civil War, Watie commanded the First Cherokee Mounted Riffles and was the last Confederate general to surrender. He also served as a Cherokee Supreme Court clerk and helped his brother, Elias Boudinot, establish the Cherokee Phoenix newspaper prior to the tribe’s removal to Indian Territory, present-day Oklahoma.

In a statement from CN Communications Director Amanda Clinton regarding the potential removal of Watie’s name from the OKC school, she said the tribe would respect any decision OKCPS makes.

“Stand Watie is an important and prominent figure in Cherokee history. While he is best known as the last Confederate general to surrender in the American Civil War, he was important for many other reasons, even pre-dating the Trail of Tears and Cherokee Removal to Indian Territory. That being said, Oklahoma City is not and never has been part of the geographic land base of the Cherokee Nation, and we respect Oklahoma City Public Schools’ decision to make whatever decision they feel is best for their community.”

Lora said the OKC board of education would also have to consider costs associated with any name changes. Each district would be responsible for using its funds to pay for name changes.

“The expense to change the name of a facility is approximately $50,000 to $75,000, so the decision to rename any school has significant budgetary implications that must be considered in these challenging budget times. However, we hope eventually to ensure that all OKCPS schools have names that reflect our values,” she said.

According to the Associate Press, the education board was set to inform Lora on Sept. 5 whether she has permission to consult with the public concerning possible name changes.
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BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
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BY STAFF REPORTS
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06/14/2018 04:00 PM
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