Pocatello High School will no longer be the home of the "Indians." Tonight, the Pocatello/Chubbuck school board voted to retire the school's mascot.
At the board meeting the public was invited to make comments to the board. One Pocatello High student remarked, "Mascots are meant to be bashed on and attacked; a culture, race or religious group is not."
"If we really do respect them [the tribes], we'd respect their wishes," added another Pocatello student.
"This school has stood for over 100 years," exclaimed a former student. "To take down the traditions, and the loyalty, and the love this school has, that is what would be disheartening."
"At Pocatello High we pride ourselves on being a school where everybody is somebody, said Pocatello High School head football coach Dave Spillet. "With that being said, we really shouldn't then decide which people count as everybody. As a society we shouldn't choose what is offensive to other people. We should stop, listen and try to understand."
"I ask you not to go through with this," added an elderly woman.
Emotions ran high Tuesday night at the board meeting as dozens of additional attendees shared their feelings on retiring the "Indians" mascot.
While there were people supporting both sides of the issue in attendance, the majority was in favor of the change.
There were even descendants of Chief Pocatello in attendance; one of whom was in favor of keeping the mascot. However, other descendants of the chief opposed.
"Making my children one-quarter Chinese," explained a former cheerleader and coach. "My mind keeps thinking of how I'd feel if we were the Pocatello orientals, and my kids and in-laws had to sit and watch a rival school belittle and mock the way they loo, think, and celebrate their culture."
Every person who spoke was allowed three minutes to make his or her comment on the issue. Those who went over their time were asked to wrap up by the board chair. After hearing all who wished to comment, the board voted to retire the mascot.
"I believe it is time for the change," said board member Jackie Cranor. "It is time."
The board voted to retire the "Indians" mascot effective June 1, 2021 to allow the school and community time to pick a new mascot for the following school year. Only one board member dissented to the vote. However, that was only because she wanted to retire the mascot immediately.
The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes urged the school to make the change, and tonight's decision is welcome.
Devon Doyer who represents chairman for the tribes explained after the meeting, "I never thought it would change in my lifetime. And so, that healing has already begun, and so I hope everybody can celebrate together because it's something new, something to look forward to, including all the students of Pocatello High School."
Many who spoke at the meeting mentioned mockery of Native American culture as a reason to retire the mascot. Randy'L Teton who is the public affairs manager for Shoshone-Bannock Tribes adds, "I felt we all agreed that that needs to stop; and so, I'm happy to say that is going to stop; and we are going to move forward in a more culturally understanding way."
Tribal leaders say this decision helps tribal members heal as well as protect current students from harassment brought on, in part, by the mascot.