POCATELLO — The community now has nine options to consider to replace the Indians as the official mascot of Pocatello High School.
The Pocatello-Chubbuck School District 25 Board of Trustees will discuss the options during a Nov. 10 work session and is expected to take action on a new mascot on Nov. 17.
The committee created an advisory survey — tinyurl.com/SD25-PHS-Mascot — to accept feedback on the short list of options from students, staff, alumni and the community at large.
The list includes the phantoms — a nod to the longstanding stories about the school being haunted, leading PHS to be featured on paranormal TV shows such as “Ghost Hunters.” The bulk of the list comprises animals of significance in Native American culture including the bison, the eagles, the wolves, the mountain lions, the mustangs and the falcons.
The thunder and the stampede round out the list.
The school board voted on Sept. 15 to retire the mascot, based on concerns that it was offensive to Native Americans. The district accepted submissions for a replacement from Sept. 17 through Oct. 16, according to a press release.
Parents, teachers, community members, alumni and coaches served on a mascot selection committee that considered 185 submissions to arrive at the list of nine options.
The committee decided to eliminate any options tied to a specific group of people and that animals considered would be native to the region, according to the press release. District officials said the committee has also made it a priority to retain mottoes of importance in school history.
An emphasis was placed on finding options that are “positively and respectfully” tied to the school’s Native American heritage, according to the press release.
Members of PHS student government have been asked to promote specific mascot options for voters, the district said.
Both supporters and opponents of the decision to retire the Indians mascot have voiced strong feelings. Alumni Steven McCurdy started a petition to “save the Pocatello Indian logo.” The petition is posted at https://www.change.org/p/pocatello-chubbuck-school-board-save-the-pocatello-indian and had 3,504 signatures as of Saturday morning.
The petition reads: “It’s not about hate, but heritage, tradition and history. The Indian logo has been around since the high school’s creation, and it has always been a revered symbol of loyalty, tradition and honor.”
A petition started by Madilyn Zink supportive of changing the mascot — https://www.change.org/p/idaho-board-of-education-change-pocatello-high-school-s-mascot — had 1,251 signatures as of Saturday morning.
That petition reads: “Last year, on July 26, 2019, the Fort Hall Business Council, the governing body for the Shoshone Bannock Tribes, submitted a position paper to the Idaho Board of Education to officially oppose the use of racial misappropriation to terms relating to Native Americans, including Indians, savages and redskins, as a part of any school mascots in Idaho.”
Vaya Castaneda started another petition demanding the Indians mascot be changed: https://www.change.org/p/mayor-brian-blad-change-pocatello-highschool-s-offensive-mascot. The petition drive had 3,094 signatures as of Saturday morning.
The petition reads: “It is no longer acceptable to excuse wrongdoing for the sake of ‘preserving’ a history that doesn’t belong to the peopel who defend it in the first place. Seek justice for Native people of Pocatello.”