Spokane community calls removing North Central HS symbol “Past due”

North Central High School

SPOKANE, Wash. — The symbol of North Central High School must go. Students, staff, parents, community leaders and tribal members all agreed, Tuesday night, the school’s symbol is harmful to the students and the culture.

It is something many people called “Past due.” Getting rid of the name “Indians” from North Central High School.

“Native Americans aren’t ancient. They aren’t gone. They are here and they exist,” said 2019 North Central graduate Kayla Fontana. “Not as a feather, not as a degrading cartoon plastered before the parking lot.”

Many current and past students say the name is a harmful stereotype to Indigenous people.

“As a strong Iñupiat, as a strong Indigenous person, I think it’s really important that children don’t see themselves in a character,” said Tara Ramos, a parent of three Indigenous children.

Teachers say the symbol teaches students the wrong message about the Native American culture.

“These mascots are teaching stereotypes, misleading too often insulting images of American Indians,” said Tami McCracken, the high school’s assistant principal. She also believes the symbol establishes an unwelcome and often hostile working environment for Native American students.

Some people suggested they change the mascot to a marmot or a badger.

A change of symbols is being forced by Governor Jay Inslee. He signed a bill banning Native American names from schools. However, schools, like Chief Moses Middle School in Moses Lake, can keep them if the nearest tribe gives the okay.

“These are people these are not just inanimate characters that we are trying to depict,” said Joshua Meek, superintendent of Moses Lake School District. “We want to make sure that we are covering the broader picture.”

Some tribal members weighed in and said names like the Indians should not be used at all.

“I’ve heard many people say that the mascot honors us as native people,” said Heather Lemrey, a member of the Colville Confederated Tribes. “It does not honor us. It disrespects our culture.”

Many people also encouraged the board to listen to the students speaking tonight, especially those who have been fighting to get rid of the symbol.

“I feel like that’s really important as we work to make schools more equitable and safe for everyone, we can work as well toward cultural competency and making sure students feel welcomed,” Ivy Pete, a junior at the high school.

A decision on whether to change the symbol, or work with a local tribe must be done by December 31. On Wednesday night, the school board will talk about the next step of this process during a special meeting.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: School board wants community input on North Central HS mascot

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