By ROSELYNN YAZZIE
FORT HALL — The Fort Hall Business Council (FHBC) presented a position paper on racism and mascots in Idaho schools to the Idaho Indian Education Committee and the Idaho Indian Education Summit in June.
The paper stated the FHBC officially opposed the use of racial misappropriation of terms referring to Native American, including “Indian,” “Savages,” and “Redskins” as a part of any school mascots in Idaho.
“It is disheartening to see that in 2019 the racial controversy continues. The Tribes request to the Idaho State Board of Education and the Idaho Governor and Legislature to take a stand and establish state policy to prohibit public schools from using these types of names and mascots,” the policy said.
They identified right high schools, state wide using offensive names and mascots: Salmon Savages in Salmon, Idaho; Salmon River Savages in Riggins, Idaho; Teton High School Redskins in Driggs, Idaho; Pocatello High School Indians in Pocatello, Idaho; Shoshone Indians in Shoshone, Idaho; Preston Indians in Preston, Idaho; Buhl Indians in Buhl Idaho; Boise High School Braves in Boise, Idaho.
Randy’L Teton, Shoshone-Bannock Public Affairs Manager explained there was no action done with the paper and the paper was just brought up in conversation However, she said the work will be ongoing.
The Idaho Statesman approached Public Affairs for a copy of the position paper, but Teton said they wouldn’t release one because she wasn't given authority to do so since council has been busy and haven’t had time to really discuss the matter further.
However, the Idaho Statesman obtained the position paper through a public records request and ran a story “Savages, Indian or Braves: Idaho tribe asks state government to ban all Indian mascots.”
Teton said the work between the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and Teton School Board continues as they met informally with two school board members on July 29 to discuss where they are at in the new process of phasing out the Redskins name.
Teton said, we are neighbors and we have got to work together. She has observed a cultural mix in Teton Valley and would like to see that included. She said she’s all about community and coming together.
Yvette Tuell, Public Affairs Policy Analyst, said the matter of Racism and Mascots in Idaho Schools has been ongoing for decades. She referenced an FHBC-94-0046 resolution where it called for respect from organizations to discontinue the practice of utilizing the headdress and/or any other depiction of Indians in anyway.
Tuell said the Tribes have made efforts before and they have not gone this far in the past.
“We’ve made a difference, to the point, nationally, people are talking about the work we’ve done. We have engages at the state level and we will continue to do that,” said Tuell. “If it was not for people willing to stand up and enforce this change we would not be able to be in this position.”
Tuell said they are trying to make the change for the younger generation so they won’t have to engage in enduring what those before them have had to deal with including taunting, physical threats, and so on.
There are five tribes supporting the effort, including the Nez Perce and all the Upper Snake River Tribes, which includes Burns Paiute Tribe, Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone Tribe, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, and Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of Duck Valley.
USRT wrote a letter of support of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes position on unauthorized or inappropriate use of tribal sacred and/or religious items, and inaccurate depictions of tribes, tribal history, and tribal interactions.