ROGUE RIVER, Ore. — The governor says no, now Native American mascots have to go.
At Rogue River High School, that’s going to mean a lot of areas scrubbed clean of its Chieftain mascot.
“It goes from the totem pole at the football field to all the signage around the school, the gym floor, the gym wall,” principal Jesse Pershin explained. “We’re the Chieftains, and we’re proud of being the Chieftains, just like other schools are proud of who they are.”
Since the Oregon Board of Education ruled that schools remove tribal imagery by 2017, Rogue River already took steps, changing their mascot from a Native American face to a spear, and getting rid of a Chieftain mascot at games. But before they start removing things now, they’re going to see what options come out of the legislature.
“All those things are somewhat waiting to see what the legislation and the governor, and the lawmakers have to say,” Pershin explained.
The biggest issue is the cost of replacing every logo, sign and painting, and who will pay for all of it.
“It’s thousands and thousands of dollars right now when we’re in an economic shortfall,” Pershin added. “We can’t provide significant funding to schools, but we’re going to mandate a change. What is the funding stream going to look like to support schools in this transition and this overhaul?”
They just want to take steps that help its community keep school pride.
“Regardless of where you go to school, whether you’re a Black Tornado or a Panther or a Chieftain, you want your kids to be proud of that, and you want to celebrate it and move forward with it.”
A representative from the Cow Creek Tribe said the tribe plans to stay out of the debate over tribal mascots, and has always taken a stance that schools should do “what they think is right.”