Spirit Lake School District Board To Consider Mascot After ’22-’23 School Year

Spirit Lake — One of the public schools in northwest Iowa is again taking some heat for their mascot.

Earlier this year, the Spirit Lake Tribe of North Dakota sent a letter to the Spirit Lake Community School District about their “Indian” mascot. The letter says their Tribal Council spoke with Spirit Lake Community School District Superintendent Dr. David Smith, who told them that the Tribe had granted the school permission to use the mascot. The Tribe says they have no record of that consent, and that regardless of any purported historical context, they “adamantly object to the ongoing practice of the use of [the Indian mascot].” The Tribe went on to say, “We view the use of your Indian mascot as offensive, insensitive, and a form of perpetuating institutional racism.” They also said, “Schools must teach by example and strive to support environments for inclusiveness and diversity.” They encouraged the district to retire the mascot.

In their response, the school district said that there is a nearly 120-year history of the district being known as the “Spirit Lake Indians.” They say that the name “embodies the historical significance of the Native American cultural influence in our area…”

They say the last time the issue was discussed at length was in 2006 when there was a discussion of whether to use the mascot on the new gym floor. The majority of people were in favor of using the mascot. At the time, they stipulated some limitations, including no use of tomahawk or other chants, no spears or hatchets, no dressing up as the Indian mascot or wearing feathers or headdresses, no demeaning references, and implementing education into the curriculum with regard to Native American culture. They say these are still in place.

Spirit Lake Community School District Officials say they are not addressing any comments or questions related to the issue at this time. However, the matter “will be placed on a school board agenda following the conclusion of the current school year.”



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