Ft. Hall tribal members call nickname offensive   

FORT HALL—Members of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes met with Teton School District representatives this week to express the tribes’ support for ditching Teton High School’s “Redskins” name.

    Randy’l Teton, the tribes’ public affairs manager, said tribal leadership is in “full support” of the school district’s discarding of the Redskins name for the Driggs high school’s mascot, logo and sports teams. She said the use of the name Redskins at Teton High School “does not recognize Native American heritage and is disrespectful of all Native Americans,” including the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.

    Teton said that when the nickname was adopted some 60 years ago, those who selected it might have thought they were honoring Native Americans.

    “But that’s all changed,” she said. “We have to be able to understand each other’s culture and respect each other.”

    A meeting will be held July 8 at Teton High School to give the public a chance to comment on the Teton School District’s decision to eliminate the Redskins name.

 Teton said this week’s meeting between Shoshone-Bannock tribal leaders and Teton School District officials was held Monday at the Tribal Business Center at Fort Hall.

    At the meeting in addition to Teton were the following representatives of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes: Chairman Nathan Small, Vice Chairman Glenn Fisher, council members Blaine Edmo and Darrell Dixey, Executive Director Angelo Gonzales, Sho-Ban News Editor Lori Edmo-Suppah, and tribal members Larry, Clarence and Mary Teton, representing the Teton family.

    They met with Monte Woolstenhulme, Teton School District superintendent; Frank Mello, Teton High School principal; Brody Birch, Teton High School athletic director; and Doug Petersen, Teton School District school board president.

    “It was a really good discussion, and we left the meeting feeling good about the decision” to remove the Redskins reference, said Randy’l Teton. Tribal leaders are expected to send a letter to the Teton School District in support of the decision to discard the Redskins name. The district is located east of Rexburg near the Wyoming state line.

    “We’re happy the issue was brought to our attention,” said Randy’l Teton, referring to the fact Teton School District officials asked the tribes for input on the Redskins matter. “We’re all learning from each other at the same time.”

    She suggested the Teton School District install a commemorative plaque or other display to show that the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes thrived in the Teton Valley and continue to do so.

    Native Americans known as the Teton, of which Randy’l is a family member, were original inhabitants of the Teton Valley in Idaho and still use the area for hunting grounds, she said. She would like to see the Teton School District’s staff and students participate in education and training regarding the Native Americans who reside in the Teton Valley now or used the area 100 years ago.

    Randy’l said that she and members of her family and other Native Americans still say their prayers to their ancestors when they come to the Teton Valley.

    The Teton School District Board of Trustees on July 8 will hear public comments on the district’s intent to remove all references to Redskins from Teton High School’s mascot, logo and sports teams. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the Teton High School auditorium in Driggs.  

    Woolstenhulme said he’s willing to listen to members of the community, high school alumni, people affiliated with the district and others regarding his decision last month to immediately remove the Redskins moniker from the high school.

    Woolstenhulme, who independently decided on the name change, decided to hear public comments after a June 12 meeting with Petersen, the Teton School District’s board president.

    It’s unclear if the July 8 meeting will result in any reversal of the decision to eliminate Teton High School’s Redskins name.

    Public outcry over the issue, including a “Save the Redskins” Facebook page and a petition demanding the public be heard, has been intense since the Woolstenhulme’s announcement June 10 that he was eliminating the Redskins name from the high school.

    An article in the Native American Times reported July 1 that the National Indian Education Association last year called for the immediate elimination of race-based Indian logos, mascots and team names from educational institutions throughout the country.

    The association passed the resolution at its 40th annual national convention in Milwaukee in October 2012, according to the Native American Times story.

    “Mascotizing reduces persons to caricatures, it reduces intrinsic worth to financial worth, it creates an environment of ignorance and intimidation,” said Chris Kraatz, a visiting assistant professor at Indiana University, in the article.