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.
BOISE (AP) — Plans for protecting sage grouse in five Western states are being changed in ways that will conserve habitat while allowing ranchers to maintain their livelihoods, federal officials said Thursday.
The U.S. Forest Service said the changes allow for greater flexibility and local control, but details of the plans involving Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado aren't being made public until Friday.
“The Forest Service continues to promote our multiple use mission while ensuring conservation of greater sage grouse habitat,'' said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in a statement. “We are sharing the stewardship of the lands with western state governors — their extensive participation throughout this process was the key to landscape-scale conservation that aligns our policies and practices across local, state, and federal jurisdictions.''
Environmental groups blasted the plan based on the Forest Service's three-bullet-point summary released Thursday ahead of Friday's final environmental impact statement, which are typically long and complex documents.
Western Watersheds Project said the plan guts protections for sage grouse created under the Obama administration in 2015.
“This is part of a broader pattern of trying to turn over control of public lands and sensitive wildlife resources to state and local governments that are often diametrically opposed to conservation,'' said Erik Molvar, the group's executive director.
Sage grouse are chicken-sized, ground-dwelling birds considered an indicator species for the health of vast sagebrush landscapes in the U.S. West that support some 350 species of wildlife.
Between 200,000 and 500,000 sage grouse remain in 11 Western states, down from a peak population of about 16 million. Experts generally attribute the decline to road construction, development and oil and gas leasing.
Researchers say sage grouse once occupied about 463,000 square miles (1.2 million square kilometers), but that's now down to about 260,000 square miles (670,000 square kilometers).
The males are known for performing an elaborate ritual that includes making balloon-like sounds with two air sacks on their necks.
A draft of the sage grouse plans released in June covered 9,500 square miles (24,500 square kilometers) of greater sage grouse habitat in Idaho, Colorado, Nevada, Wyoming, Utah and Montana. The agency clarified the following month that plans in national forests in Montana wouldn't change.
Federal officials at the time said the objective was for the final plan to have a neutral to positive effect for sage grouse.
Molvar questioned the federal agency touting the plans before actually making them public.
“Under the Trump administration, federal agencies are trying to wage a propaganda war in which they are trying to be the only voice in the conversation,'' he said.
The Obama administration in 2015 opted not to list sage grouse as needing federal protections under the Endangered Species Act and instead imposed land-use restrictions leading to multiple lawsuits from industry and environmentalists. Several states, including Idaho, also sued.
In one of those lawsuits, a U.S. court agreed with mining companies that the Forest Service created some safeguards in Nevada after failing to give the public enough information to participate in a meaningful way. In response, the Forest Service said those same safeguards existed in other states, so it decided to review plans outside of Nevada as well.
John Freemuth, a Boise State University environmental policy professor and public lands expert, said whatever the final plan released on Friday looks like, monitoring results will be key to understanding if they work.
“It's fine to revise the plans, but we need to have the scientists out there doing the research,'' he said.