Indian mascot at HS gets blessing from tribe — and without cultural controversy: ‘I’m honored’

Indian mascot at HS gets blessing from tribe — and without cultural controversy: ‘I’m honored’
Students at Colorado's Strasburg High School and members of the region's Northern Arapaho Tribe dance together during a powwow at the school. The tribe gave its blessing to the school for its "Indians" mascot amid a fruitful dialogue and collaboration. (Image source: KCNC-TV video screenshot)

In these days of just about anything bearing Native American imagery getting trashed in the name of cultural sensitivity — particularly team and school mascots — one Colorado high school and one tribe are showing America how real learning and communication comes to life.

Strasburg High School has always been “Home of the Indians,” but instead of banning the name and the logos that mark hallways and uniforms, students at the school decided to reach out to the region’s Northern Arapaho Tribe, KCNC-TV reported.

Image source: KCNC-TV video screenshot

A collaboration is born

The students worked with the tribe to make subtle changes to the mascot — and as it turned out, to the school itself, the station said.

“I love their sense of community and the fact that the kids in the tribe they respect their elders so much,” junior Mati Douglas, who has taken charge of the three-year-old project, told KCNC.

Student Mati Douglas, first row, far left (Image source: KCNC-TV video screenshot)

A blessing is bestowed

Principal Jeff Rasp added to the station that the Northern Arapaho Tribe gave its blessing to the high school’s mission — and that one of the tribe members even drew Strasburg’s new logo.

“So in that process, they came to the school, they visited,” Rasp noted to KCNC. “We kept in correspondence with them.”

Image source: KCNC-TV video screenshot

‘We can sit down and talk’

“You know it’s always good when we can sit down and talk and recognize the importance of our culture,” Anthony Addison of the tribe told the station.

Image source: KCNC-TV video screenshot

Yet another powwow

KCNC cameras caught portions of a Northern Arapaho powwow at Strasburg High — the third there so far since the collaboration commenced, with many more anticpated in the future.

Image source: KCNC-TV video screenshot

“Our young kids have lots to share with the kids of Strasburg,” Gail Ridgely, another member of the tribe, told the station.

Image source: KCNC-TV video screenshot

Ridgely — a teacher for many years on their reservation in Wind River, Wyoming — told KCNC he loves the concept of students from different cultures teaching and learning from each other.

‘I’m honored to be here today’

“I’m honored to be here today, because this was one of my goals when I was in the classroom that something, somehow could happen down the road like this,” Ridgely added to the station.

Image source: KCNC-TV video screenshot

This writer’s perspective

The video of members of the Northern Arapaho Tribe holding hands with Strasburg students and dancing in a line is heartening — and an example to those in the oh-so-woke sectors of America that different cultures aren’t to be shunned or avoided or kept off limits or separate in name of political correctness and the fear of committing cultural appropriation, according to … somebody.

The students and the school did the right thing by approaching the tribe for their input about their mascot. The tribe and its members did the right thing by welcoming the dialogue and collaboration and imparting knowledge and experience.

Now a friendship is in full flight because each “side” took a risk and trusted the other. Talking, sharing, openness, vulnerability. Hopefully others are watching this unfold — because that’s how conflicts and enemies are avoided.