Gifferd Osborne speaks to Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25 Board of Trustees members at the September 15 meeting.
By ROSELYNN YAZZIE
POCATELLO — The Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25 Board of Trustees voted 4-1 in favor of retiring the Indian mascot effective June 1, 2021.
The action was voted upon at the regular board meeting on Tuesday, September 15 before a packed room.
Fort Hall Business Council Chairman Devon Boyer said the decision is a step forward to create healing for everyone. He recognized it was a sensitive issue, not only for the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes but everyone that’s gone to school there and everyone that is in school there now.
Boyer said the change is a celebration that allows the opportunity to heal relationships with each other and make sure the curriculum is correct from the tribal perspective.
Public comment was heard from several people in attendance, who spoke at the meeting both in favor and unopposed to changing the mascot, some of those voices were from the Fort Hall community.
In introducing the issue, and as testimony was brought forth, Pocatello High School Principal Lisa Delonas asked that people focus on the research of the matter, which has shown Native American mascots harm Native American students and harm other students as well. She cited from the American Psychological Associations resolution that recommends the retirement of Native American mascots, for the following reasons:
• They undermine the educational experience of members of all communities, especially those who’ve had little or no contact with Indigenous peoples.
• They establish an unwelcome and hostile learning environment for American Indian students that are exposed to negative images and stereotypes.
• It undermines the ability of American Indian Nations to portray accurate and respectful images of their culture, spirituality and traditions.
• It presents stereotypical images of American Indians.
• They’re a form of discrimination against American Indian nations that can lead to negative relations between groups.
Delonas said this research has been conducted over decades and the findings have not wavered. “It’s scientifically researched phenomenon that indisputably shows that Native American mascots cause harm,” she said.
FHBC Chairman Devon Boyer speaks.
Several non-Native student body were in attendance and were in favor of changing the name showing empathy they had for the Native American students. One of them stated a change in the mascot does not change the spirit the school represents. One student pointed out if it was truly about honoring the people they should listen to their voices.
A Pocatello football coach said he was in support of changing the name and said as a society they shouldn’t choose what’s offensive to others and not consider how they feel.
Tribal member Michele Dann Hernandez spoke in favor of the Pocatello name remaining. As a descendent of Chief Pocatello she said she represented her family and has a Pocatello yearbook with a picture of the council who approved the name. Her father had painted the Chiefs head in the circle of the gym stand, which she witnessed. He told her to never forget who you are and where you came from. She said the Indian not only represents the Shoshone-Bannock people, but other tribes. She said if there is change to be made it should be with the Pocatello family, because it’s their fight and their right.
Clayton Armstrong said a school takes great time and effort to choose a mascot, one that represents characteristics such as courage, loyalty, virtue, bravery, intelligence, leadership and determination, he said the Pocatello mascot always represented that to him and he was honored to put on the uniform with the logo because it made him want to be better. He said the mascot was chosen to honor and respect the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.
A parent of a student at Pocatello High and tribal member, Kendra Benally, said she never really paid attention to the issue until her daughter was a student there and seeing the Indianettes perform their “Traditionals” dance was embarrassing and humiliating to watch. It made her daughter upset and made her call into question some of the “traditions” the school had at their pep assemblies, including the breaking of an arrow at the end of their dance. She supports the change.
Her daughter, Jennika Foster, who also stated she was a descendant of Pocatello, said she supports the change. She talked about how she took offense at the spirit stick the school uses during assemblies that is a staff adorned with feathers. She suggested the school should learn real traditions of the people so they can honor them in the right way.
The Pocatello High School Senior class president said she was in favor of a name change because mascots are meant to be bashed on and attacked.
The Pocatello High School student body president said although they had good intentions they cannot makeup for a hurtful impact and mascots are dehumanizing and disrespectful.
FHBC Sergeant at Arms Lee Juan Tyler speaks.
Another in support of the name change was teacher Dirk Mitton who said he has a great deal of love for Pocatello traditions, but said what matters most are relationships and he thinks change is necessary.
Carly Johnson, a dance teacher at Pocatello High, was in support of the mascot until she pictured herself and her family in the same situation, which made her change her mind.
Student Alexia Tinno talked about the Indianettes performance and felt it was culturally inappropriate. Watching it she described feeling disrespected.
Tribal member Gifferd Osborne was in support of the name and said it should remind people this is Indian Country, as it was once the homelands of the Shoshone and Bannock people. He acknowledged the mockery, but said those are just words. He felt the school didn’t know about the people and maybe they needed to be educated more.
Some who opposed change to the mascot voiced they felt it would strip away their traditions and many were alumni or had family who attended the school.
Louida Benally also said she saw the Indianettes perform and didn't feel right about it. She didn’t want to blame the dancers, but said the school doesn’t represent the people well and she would like to see more history written and on display in the school. She was in favor of changing the mascot.
Diane Yupe also reminded people of the Sho-Ban Tribes and their ties to the land. She felt the history of the people should be taught, so students will show respect. She felt the Indianettes performance was disrespectful and wanted to educate the young ladies on the importance of warbonnets.
Fort Hall Business Council Sergeant at Arms, Lee Juan Tyler, said the mockery part is where education needs to be. He talked about the Tribes history with Pocatello city and said this land is still dear to them.
“If you’re going to keep the name, stop the mockery – If you’re going to change it, that will be even better, it will bring a healing to America and southeastern Idaho,” he said.
Crowd at the school board meeting.
Ladd Edmo said 100 years is not that long when you look at history and culture of the Sho-Ban Tribes who’ve been here for centuries. He pointed out the mascot is a problem to Sho-Ban students and there needs to be an education.
FHBC Chairman Devon Boyer said they want the school district to be responsible and consult with the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.
He wanted to assure the children are receiving adequate education in a safe environment including tribal history and tribal government. Boyer said safety of the children is most important.
“It's not just Shoshone-Bannock children, it's all children, wherever they are,” he said. “You can see all the destruction going on in the world today and we don't want none of that. We want good things, with respect to all and to all of Pocatello High’s history.”
After the public comment the Board of Trustees deliberated.
Janie Gebhardt made motion to change the name but no one seconded.
Jim Facer said he knows they will have to change in the future and wanted to set a future date.
Jackie Cranor spoke emotionally as she said, “We can accomplish great things when we work together.”
She said it was too bad they couldn’t fix these things before they became so hurtful. She supported retiring mascot at the end of the school year to give everybody time to reflect on their feelings. The time would give public and the Tribes chance to work on it — to heal and come together. Cranor said it was hard for her to see change but feel it is time.
Gebhardt said she was not in favor at all and said they were at a point where they were hearing all the hurt that has been done.
“To me this is a justice issue. Do we keep pushing injustice?” she asked.
Facer motioned to retire the mascot effective as of June 1, so the graduating seniors can have their mascot through the end of the year. During that time they will come up with a new mascot. Four were in favor of the motion with Gebhardt opposing.
Randy’L Teton, the Sho-Ban Tribes Public Affairs spokeswoman, thanked the tribal members in attendance. She said it was a good step towards making necessary changes and they want to add in cultural curriculum in the districts.
She said there has been no discussion to change anything else in the city of Pocatello when referring to other names.
Fort Hall Fire Department raises the American flag off a ladder truck.
By ROSELYNN YAZZIE
FORT HALL — An American flag waved high above the Fort Hall Fire Department on Friday, honoring the 9/11 tragedy.
Jayson Gates, Captain of C-shift, explained the flag hangs from a ladder truck, which came to them from East Greenbush Fire District in upstate New York. It wasn’t on the first alarm for 9/11, but it did make mutual aid at Ground Zero.
Before COVID-19 they normally send the truck to Idaho Falls where they do a commemorative run/walk. Usually a couple FDNY firefighters come from New York to kick off the ceremony.
Gates said, “Today’s a big thing for the fire service, on that fateful day 19 years ago we lost not only 343 FDNY firefighters, but we lost police officers, people in the Trade Centers that were just working doing their regular job. We continue to lose people due to cancers and everything from them digging everyone out.”
FHFD honoring 9/11.
Gates hopes people remember this day, more than just for the Fire Department, but for all the people that lost their loved ones.
He recalls where he was when 9/11 occurred and wasn’t even in the fire service yet. He started six months after the event occurred. He was 19 years old and it was his first-time working for a health care company when he woke up and saw it on the news.
Being a firefighter has been a great career for Gates and he hopes to keep going.
Alan Guymon, Captain of B-shift, remembers when 9/11 happened he was working for another fire department and was just coming on duty, when he came through the door he saw the other crew glued to the TV. For rest of the day they watched the event unfold.
Guymon’s father and brother were both firefighters, so this day means a lot to them as a firefighting family. It’s a day they remember those who lost their lives.
By DANA HERNANDEZ
FORT HALL — The Consumer Services Program has been working hard on the supportive services for the CARES Act since applications were released August 28. The assistance they are currently serving is energy, utilities, rent/mortgage, internet, phone, childcare, food/ household items, gas, home ventilation and rehabilitation.
Speaking with the manager of Consumer Services, Dustin Davis who explained there are two types of services being offered, a one-time assistance and a monthly assistance. One time assistance is utilities, rent/mortgage, internet, phone, ventilation, and rehabilitation. The monthly assistance is childcare, food/household items, and gas.
Davis says, “I am very excited that we had over 1,000 people apply for assistance and is way more than I thought would apply. This is only the first two weeks, so it could just be the beginning.”
Some things Davis wants to stress is for applicants to fill out the application for the entire household and list everyone regardless if they are tribal members or not. Davis said if the applicant has bills that aren’t in their name and the bill is in a name of a non-tribal member, they can still have that bill taken care of as long as they are listed on the application as a member of that household.
He also said they have been getting a lot of W9’s, quotes, and other documents with no name to a client. Davis stressed they want to make sure people have a name listed on their documents in order for them to process the application.
Davis noticed there is one assistance people have not been taking advantage of, which is the solid waste, water, and septic bill assistance. He said this includes accounts that are up to date and paid, and is a $200 benefit that people are missing out on.
Davis said they can’t do car bills, car repairs, car insurance, tires, clothes, and student loans because it is not COVID-19 related to council rule. He said, “What is on our application is only what we can do, except the rehabilitation, because that was added to our services after we put out the applications.”
Davis said the food/household items and the gas assistance has been delayed for those who are seeking to shop at stores like Walmart and Winco. They are currently working on those gift cards to be ordered. “Once we get them properly catalogued we will distribute them to the people,” said Davis. Also, there will be a limited amount, and Davis said he will make an announcement on Facebook once the gift cards are available.
He also said he has food/household items and gas vouchers available right now for people who are okay with shopping at The Fort Hall Trading Post and the Enterprise Gas Stations. Those who have a completed application can pick up their vouchers at his office at building 39, Shoshone Drive the Consumer Services Program, in the house next to Sho-Ban utilities and across from Fish and Game.
The program has recently changed the amount to the food/household items. This is due to the amount gift cards allow and they could not do the $50 increments. A one person household changed from $150 to $200 and a five person household changed from $350 to $300. Next month the amounts may also change, because the first month is determining how many people they actually need to assist.
Davis said they are assisting out of area tribal members with a direct assistance of $1500, the out of area are those further than 150 miles. “The logistics to get financial information from those vendors who live outside our area is almost impossible. So, it’s easier for them and us to do a one-time assistance. They also have to fill out a CARES application and send us their rent, power, internet, and phone bills that relate to COVID-19,” said Davis.
He also said, ventilation and rehabilitation has been a very popular subject for our tribal membership and there is now a limit of $3,000-$5,000 with this assistance. They want to try and serve as many tribal members as possible because they have been receiving some big bills. Davis advised that whoever has turned in an app with them for rehab, they will get them as fast as they can, even though the Planning Department is also doing the Rehabilitation assistance now.
Applicants will need to write rehab on their application and submit a quote. Quotes for rehab work must be from a licensed and certified plumber, electrician or contractor. Davis advises to not start the job until they have received and processed their application. If contractors are already doing the work and they didn’t get an application, they will not pay it.
The program is also working with TERO approved vendors. Davis has one approved vendor, BAM Electric who has been busy with ventilation and electricity repairs for home improvement.
Davis said, “Please if you know an elder that needs help and needs an electrician, Blue Hayball at BAM Electric is usually a guy I like to turn to. If people need some suggestions, I do have a vendor or two that can do the same type of work.”
Davis said appliances is also a popular assistance, and they are able to do washers, dryers, stoves, fridges, freezers, and water heaters. The appliance must be failing or not existing. Applicants will need to submit a quote for the appliance, and there is now a limit of up to two appliances. They are prioritizing elders and disabled applicants. They are requesting applicants to choose appliances that are cost effective and energy efficient. “We’re not looking for top of the line, as long as the appliance gets the job done then that’s all you need,” said Davis.
Davis said how it works is they would cut a check to the vendor that you’ve received a quote from and you would take that check to that vendor for the appliance. He also stated Consumer Services is not responsible for delivery and installation.
The software for the student support services is still being processed and they are reaching out to those seeking this service. They are also working with finance to get approved to purchase phone cards as well as other things. He is hoping to get approved in the next week or two. Davis said the Tribes usually don’t allow these purchases, and are working with finance to change the rules.
“I just want to throw this out there that please be patient, I know people have been waiting and I apologize for not getting back to people due to so many things that took me away from my office,” said Davis.
Davis said applicants can call and check on the status of their application. There are three stages of the application process: those that haven’t been entered into the database, those that are entered, but are waiting to be reviewed, and those that have been entered, reviewed, and determined.
Applicants should have received a call, and if they haven’t received a call and it’s been two weeks since they submitted their application. They can call Dustin at (208) 478-3709, Krissy Johnson at (208) 478-3979, or Michelle Figueroa at (208) 478-3861 to check the status of their application.
Emails can also be sent to Krissy Johnson who is the primary front office person at email@example.com or Dustin at firstname.lastname@example.org, who says, everything will be forwarded to Krissy at the front office.