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‘Redmen’ mascot draws accusations of racism at Utah school. ‘Try being in our skin.’

Iron County School District

When Cedar High School in southern Utah adopted its “Redmen” mascot in 1942, it was intended to honor Native American tribes in the area, according to the school’s website.

But now some at the mostly-white school say they find the mascot demeaning and hurtful, in part because it refers to skin color rather than a specific tribe, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

“Try being in some of our shoes,” said Donalisa Tsinnijinnie, who is Native American, according to the publication. “Matter of fact, try being in our skin.”

The Iron County School District board, which ultimately will rule on whether to keep or change the mascot, will hear arguments on the proposal Tuesday, The St. George News reported.

The mascot, now represented by a stylized Native American shield, “reminds all of us of the pride, nobility, and hard work it takes to achieve success,” says the school’s website.

The mascot has previously drawn criticism, however, The St. George Spectrum reported. In 2016, critics found fault with a school dance team routine that featured “tribal music, braided wigs and fake feathers,” according to the publication.

Backers of the Redmen mascot argued that it encouraged school unity at hearings held in December and on Monday by the advisory panel, consisting of teachers, alumni, parents, students and the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, The St. George News reported.

“Every game that I’ve been to, and every little activity our school’s had … it pulls all of us so much closer together,” said Mekhi Sobel, a sophomore, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Some called concerns about the mascot a distraction.

“Why are we worried about a name?” said Danae Deschine, a Paiute member, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. “We have so many other things to worry about. We’ve had so many funerals in the past couple months over drugs and alcohol and no one’s even worried about that, they’re worried about this name? I don’t understand it.”

Others, however, argued that another mascot could better unify the school. The district has not yet considered other possible mascots, reported The St. George News.

“There is a large population of students at Cedar High who would support a change in the mascot,” said student Eliza Allen, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. “I don’t think changing the mascot would erase all of our school pride. I think that’s kind of underestimating the students at Cedar High.”

The school board will hear two presentations, one in favor of changing the name and one in favor of keeping it, then reach a decision, The St. George Spectrum reported.

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