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Marion will drop “Indians” mascot after the 2020-21 school year
MARION - Farewell, Marion Indians.
In a 5-2 tally, the Marion Independent School District board of education voted Monday night to change the school's mascot, effective July 31, 2021.
'I would use the word ‘emotional,'” superintendent Janelle Brouwer said Tuesday morning. 'The board is very proud of Marion. Some of them had been Marion students. There is a lot of pride in the history of the district.
'They take seriously their role of being servants to the public, and this wasn't a decision they took lightly.
'A lot of people would have liked to have kept it, but in the feedback, many find it offensive and that it doesn't align with our core values.”
Board president Shari Funck was one of the five voting for change.
'It was a very, very difficult decision for me, and it's a decision I had not come to until the last 24 hours before the meeting,” said Funck, who has been on the board for eight years and has a daughter in the district.
'All (board members) expressed that we wanted to remain the Indians, with all of the tradition the school has. But at the same time, some of us felt that it's no longer appropriate.”
The district conducted a survey in September, in which 1,815 students, staff, parents, alumni and community members participated.
Of those that participated, 63 percent wanted to keep the Indians nickname, 28 percent voted to change and 9 percent had no preference.
'One thing about the survey,” Funck said. 'We didn't just ask whether they should keep or change the nickname. We also asked why. And it was the why on some of those responses that was so important.”
Responses in the survey were all over the spectrum:
' 'I believe having an Indians as a mascot is offensive in the current world we live in.”
' 'I like Indians and that's what we've always been, but I understand it may be offensive to some.”
' 'A mascot is chosen out of pride and respect. This is why the Indians were chosen. This symbol means strength, perseverance and courage and is a nod to the history of this area.”
Brouwer received a letter from the Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa - also known as Meskwaki Nation - dated Sept. 24, requesting a name change.
'Native American people or Indians should not be viewed as ‘mascots' for the pleasure of branding sports teams, schools or any other organization,” the letter stated.
'Educational institutions choosing to use race-based Indian logos, mascots and names harm children, exposing graduating class after graduating class to these stereotypes, and indoctrinating them that it is acceptable to stereotype an entire race of people.
'We would prefer the Marion Independent School District consider changing their mascot from Indians to something that isn't offensive to Native Americans. There are many other options that would be more acceptable.”
And Monday night, the school board collectively agreed.
Marion High School principal Greg Semler said the Indians nickname 'was never a slam on our history. It was just a different time then than it is now.”
Gradually, the school has decreased the Indians references. The traditional logo of an arrowhead was replaced several years ago, and the most common logo now is a simple block-shaped 'M.”
Funck said the transition from now to next July gives the district time for rebranding. All officials interviewed by The Gazette said they would prefer to keep the current color scheme.
'Our desire is to keep the red and gold for tradition's sake, and also for cost savings,” Brouwer said.
Athletics director Mike Manderscheid said 'more than 50 percent” of athletics uniforms 'just say Marion on them,” and don't have any Indians references, and thus, wouldn't need immediate replacement.
'Once we see where we're going, the rebranding will be exciting,” Manderscheid said. 'I'm excited for what's ahead in the next six months.”
There isn't yet a process in place on what - if any - mascot will follow. When that happens, 'We want to engage the students, the staff and the community,” Brouwer said.
'Some of us (administrators and coaches) have had our own contest, and we kind of landed on Red Wolves,” Semler said. 'Something like that is benign and offensive to nobody.”
One popular idea among the student body is Derechos, in reference to the devastating Aug. 10 storm that struck the area. But it might be too soon for that.
'We want a mascot we can all get behind,” Brouwer said.
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