Tribal Council member Jon George

Tribal Council Member Jon George of The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde presented necklaces as gifts to school district staff as the two sides reached an agreement regarding the Scappoose High mascot.

On Monday night – Columbus Day - at the Scappoose High auditorium, the superintendent Stephen Jupe along with other school district staff and representatives of The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, announced they had reached an agreement, which would allow Scappoose High to keep its current mascot, The Indians.

Earlier this year the Oregon Board of Education passed an amendment to a previous ruling that 14 schools with Native American mascots must choose new ones by 2017. The amendment allowed schools to maintain their names and mascots if they were granted permission by one of Oregon’s nine tribes.

The CTGR is an organization based in Grand Ronde, OR, whose mission is “to improve the quality of life for Tribal people by providing opportunities and services that will build and embrace a community rich in healthy families and capable people with strong cultural values.”

In Chinook and Wawa, tribal council member Jon George said, “Today, my heart is good,” after he had introduced himself.

“When the state education board had decided that there should no longer be mascots, we as a tribal council agreed to say, ‘That shouldn’t be. There should be other opportunities for the schools to be able to keep their names,” George said.

“I know from our stance as native people, we looked at it almost as another form of termination. ‘Let’s wipe out any idea, or any history, or any meaning, of the words Indian, Braves, or Warriors,’” George said. “We felt it as [similar to] when we were terminated in 1954, under the termination act.”

As part of the agreement, the district will implement a native history curriculum as designed by CTGR. Currently they have drafts written for fourth and eight grade curriculum, and have plans for high school curriculum.

“We decided as a tribe to create a native history curriculum that talked about our local people and our tribes in this area,” George said.

“I think the most important part is to have truth in your schools. Some of it’s not pretty; it is real. Diseases came and wiped out a lot of our tribes.”

The Clackamas Tribe, for instance, had a population of over 3,000 native people living around Willamette Falls, but disease brought by traders through blankets, such as tuberculosis and measles, reduced the population to roughly 300.

After the superintendent and George had spoken, the council member presented school board staff with necklaces as gifts.

Community members were invited to speak, one of who voiced displeasure with the agreement.

A Lakotan man shared the story of his name. Born Kikta AhiyayA (the capital A represents a long vowel sound), the county of his birth did not allow “Indian names,” and so he later took the name of William Baker. That story of discrimination and racial prejudice was unfortunately not the only one he had experienced, and helped form his opinion of the agreement.

“Of course our country has a long history of abuse of First Nation’s people, but do you think teaching this abuse in our schools, with this mascot, is really a valid part of our children’s educations?” AhiyayA said. “Teaching by example is a valid way for children to learn but, in this instance, what is this example teaching except callous disregard for some people who are looked upon as only objects, not humans?”

In addition, the inaccuracy of the Scappoose mascot was noted

“One of the things that were trying to do through these agreements is to work directly with you to identify appropriate imagery,” Tribal Attorney Rob Greene said. “Our culture program at the tribe is very knowledgeable of the Multnomah and Chinooks who lived in this area and the types of things that were important to them.”

Greene went on to cite how community members in partnership with the CTGR’s cultural experts will work to develop appropriate imagery that works with the school. He stressed a lengthy internal review process that would review imagery and names while they continue to hear from and work with the community.

Both Greene and George stressed the agreement’s focus on the long-term effect of education, as opposed to the relatively quick transition to a new mascot or school name.

“There is no better place for us than starting with your kids,” Greene said. “As they understand this history, then they grow up, and then when [there is] some sort of conflict, they come at those problems very differently, because they’ve grown up understanding the history of those people, and what happened to them, and where they are today.”

“And most importantly, as I’ve always been taught by Jon and others, is that they’re still here. And they’re still a large part of your community.”

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(4) comments

howarthe

I look forward to the curriculum mentioned: "As part of the agreement, the district will implement a native history curriculum as designed by Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde. Currently they have drafts written for fourth and eight grade curriculum, and have plans for high school curriculum." My daughter is already in 8th grade, but if the curriculum could be made available online, we would read through it as a family. My children received a very good African American studies curriculum in Grades K-3 at Grant Watts Elementary, and it took the simple form of well-chosen books shared by the teachers during African American history month. If the tribe has a reading list for younger students, I would love to help add it to our school library. If any school district in Oregon does Native American studies well, it should be a school district with a name like Scappoose. :-)

Gnarutoe

I personally cannot believe that one person is allowed to speak for all natives on this issue. I am a Native American from Scappoose my tribe is out of Northern California but I believe that no institution of learning should be able to use a race of people as a mascot like were animals or something what if I got permission from the surrounding black families to use the n word would that make it okay? No or what if the next town over were the St. Helens black guys or white guys how would that make them feel well thats what youre doing to tribal me,bers but thats just my opinion and I know it wont stop them its just how I feel.

comfortare

I think there are many lessons to be learned from this agreement. Native American history is intertwined with American history and it is important for us to understand their view of both. Having a mascot such as this is not the equivalent as the 'N'-word. There are many non-offensive mascots that represent different groups of people. Cowboys, Celtics, Orangemen, Patriots, Pirates, Fighting Irish, Padres, Mariners, Canadians, and many others for example. Certainly there shouldn't be derogatory names such as the one the D.C. NFL team uses, but if there is some measure of agreement with the tribes as to what is appropriate then why not have a respectful reference. By removing all references to the tribes in this way we also destroy the acknowledgement of their existence, and we have done too much of that already. It seems like this is a great way to expand learning and understanding between our people and that is a good thing.

sapasmith

This is not in anyway a positive way to educate the young. Mascots are a treatment toward Natives that is not new. The whole idea to crush a person self-identity and worth goes back to mass extermination, boarding schools, and much more. The fact that the majority of American Indians as well as most non-Indians understand this is wrong is good. Even so, a small number of people don't care what is right or wrong... they want their high school to keep it's name. We still need to improve as a people, this seems like a small problem but it's not the psychological and social affects this creates for our young is big. I'm not the familiar with Grande Ronde but this is the same tribe that went after Warm Springs and Cowlitz when they wanted to open a casino, and these latter tribes supported Grande Ronde when they were not federally recognized, and now their pulling this Mascot support.

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