Board votes to retire Pocatello High School Indians mascot

POCATELLO, Idaho (AP) — A school board in Idaho has announced its decision to retire the Pocatello High School Indians mascot at the end of the academic year after students and community members raised concerns over how other school athletic programs would portray the mascot before competitions.

The Pocatello-Chubbuck School District 25 Board of Trustees voted 5-1 to eliminate the mascot during a board meeting on Tuesday, the Idaho State Journal reported.

The school is now accepting recommendations for a new mascot. No timeline has been set but the board is expected to make a decision from three final options.

Some mascot opponents said the mascot itself was not as harmful or offensive as watching the Indianettes, the name given to the school’s drill team, perform the “Traditionals” dance, which typically featured many non-Native female students in sheepskin dresses snapping arrows over their knees.

And some opponents said other schools held offensive pep rallies and posted offensive posters related to the Indians mascot to promote athletic competitions.

Members of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes disagreed among themselves — with some claiming the mascot pays homage to their history and the land that was once theirs.

Others said that the school was doing little if anything to preserve or share the tribe's culture.

The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes last year asked all Idaho schools to drop Native American mascots, saying they perpetuated racism and stereotyping.

Boise High School changed its mascot from “Braves” to “Brave” in August 2019, replacing Native American-themed imagery with mottos aimed at promoting the virtue of bravery, and Teton High School dropped the “Redskins” mascot after years of debate.

Several other schools across the state still have names that many find offensive, including the Salmon High School “Savages” and the Orofino High School “Maniacs.”

Orofino is home to a state hospital for people with mental illness.