After 90 years of being known as the "Redskins," Teton High School in Driggs, Idaho, will have to find a new mascot despite vehement pushback.
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For years, opposing groups in the Teton School District have battled over whether the Redskins moniker is disrespectful to Native Americans. But on Tuesday, the school board voted 4-1 to retire the controversial name in hopes of putting the issue to rest.
"I believe it's a moral and ethical decision," board member Mary Mello told the Idaho Statesman following her push to change the mascot. "It was a very hard one for our board. I felt like we needed to remember what we're charged to do. We're charged to make the best decision we can based on facts and not individuals or special interest groups.
"And our No. 1 overriding goal in our school district policy and code of ethics is to always make the best decision we can for our students."
Yet the overwhelming majority of students were against the name change. A recent student council poll showed that 67 percent of the Teton High School student body supported keeping the mascot that had been in place since 1929, and there were two student walkouts this year in protest of the proposal to ditch the Redskins moniker.
Still, there were groups of students who adamantly endorsed dropping the mascot. The school newspaper "The War Cry," further vowed to change its name out of respect for Native Americans.
Students weren't the only ones divided on the issue. The Statesman reported there were 200 attendees during a six-hour school board meeting on July 8. Thirty-three testified in favor of changing the name, and 27 urged officials to keep the mascot in place. A "Save the Redskins" Facebook page created in 2013 swelled to more than 1,100 members ahead of the vote.
A major consideration for school board members in the end, however, was the fact that two Native American tribes — the Shoshone-Bannock and the Nez Perce — publicly lobbied for Teton High School to get rid of the Redskins mascot, USA Today reported.
The name change is expected to cost around $30,000. It is unclear where the funding will come from, but one board member suggested raising the money through grants to avoid dipping into district coffers to cover the expense.