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Dozens of Ohio high schools have indian-related team names

Dozens of Ohio high schools have indian-related team names

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- Pressure continues on the Washington Redskins to change their team name. Several groups see the name as offensive and want the team to drop it. But these types of mascots aren't limited to professional teams. There are 88 Ohio high schools with nicknames that are Native American-related.

A list from the Ohio High School Athletics Association finds Warriors and Indians are the top names in Ohio, both have 23 teams with that nickname. 11 Ohio high schools use the nickname Redskins, 9 use Braves, and 5 are called the Redmen.

"We wear the Redskin name proudly and think it reflects a lot of great attributes and virtues," said Wapakoneta City Schools Superintendent Keith Horner.

Wapakoneta High School sits on land occupied by the Shawnee Indians, according to Horner. He notes that they were known for their courage, intellect, and athletic ability and they have no plans to change the school's mascot.

"While some may find it offensive, other Native Americans find it very honoring that people use their name," he said.

According to a report from the National Congress of American Indians, 28 high schools across the nation have decided to drop the Redskins over the past 25 years. None of the schools are in Ohio. Of 46,671 students at the 62 schools that use the name Redskins only 2.3 percent are Native American while white students make up 64.2 percent of the student population. Executive Director Jacqueline Pata says the term Redskin is hurtful.

"The word comes from the day when it was acceptable for Natives to be skinned and their skins to be counted for bounty," she said.

Warren G. Harding High School's sports teams are known as the Raiders, but their mascot is an indian warrior. Athletics Director Paul Trina says it pays homage to the days of the Western Reserve.

"We have never been approached by any organization questioning our mascot," he said.

While they are involved in demanding that the Washington Redskins change their name, she says they haven't taken that movement to the high school level. She hopes those decisions are made locally.

"I think you're going to see students across the country be sensitive to this issue and take it on themselves," said Pata.

Pata was shocked to find so many schools in Ohio using Native American-related nicknames and mascots.

"To see so many Native names used in the state that doesn't have a history of honoring Natives is hard," she said, noting Ohio's history of running indian tribes out of the state.

She believes that using nicknames like Redskins treats Native Americans like second class citizens.

Adena High School Athletics Director Scott Hurtt says their team name, Warriors, was likely chosen in 1965 because the school is located in Frankfort, a former Shawnee Indian village.

"The people that came up with the name probably looked at it as an honor or paying their respects to the area in which we live in," he said.

Hurtt isn't aware of any effort to change it, though he acknowledges that times have changed. He believes that if the issue were pushed the school shouldn't put up a huge fight.

"To me personally if there were a push for it...change it," he said. Hurtt says it's just a name and it wouldn't change the school at all.

The state of Oregon has banned all high schools from using Native American-related names, with the exception of Warriors. They have until 2017 to comply.

The most popular mascot name in Ohio is a tie between the Eagles and Panthers. The Eagles take the lead if you add in the Fighting Eagles of John F. Kennedy High School in Cleveland and six teams that use Golden Eagles as their mascot.

As for the Washington Redskins, an Associated Press poll conducted in May showed that 79 percent felt the name should not be changed with just 2 percent undecided.

(Photo courtesy Wapakoneta High School)

 

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