Utah American Indian mascot change resolution draws protest
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – A Utah legislator’s proposed resolution discouraging schools from renaming mascots involving Native Americans prompted a protest at the state Capitol.
“Native mascots at their very core are dehumanizing,” James Courage Singer, co-founder of the Utah League of Native American Voters, told the roughly 50 protesters on Jan. 25.
High school students in Cedar City in 2019 renamed their “Redmen” mascot to “Reds.”
Republican Rep. Rex Shipp of Cedar City is sponsoring the resolution that “discourages removing names, images and symbols of Native Americans and other Indigenous people from schools or places.”
It calls for trying to reach a consensus among local Native Americans before making such changes.
“What the resolution is doing is saying that if you’re going to use Native American names and images and symbols, then be sure you’re sensitive and you work with the local Native American tribes,” Shipp told the St. George Spectrum & Daily News.
“Make sure they feel comfortable and you’re sensitive with them and how they portray their images and so forth,” Shipp said.
Several people have complained about the Redmen name change and the resolution seeks to honor the heritage and legacy that Native Americans in the area have cultivated, Shipp said.
The Capitol protesters waved signs that read, “Human, Not Mascot” and cheered as speakers called on Shipp to pull the measure, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
Shipp expressed surprise at the protest. The resolution is nothing more than a “blueprint” for communities wrestling with decisions about whether to keep Native American mascots, Shipp said.
The annual legislative session begins Jan. 27.