ANDERSON, Ind. (AP) — A central Indiana school district that adopted a Native American mascot nearly a century ago has dropped a basketball pregame routine where students dressed as American Indians performed a “peace pipe" ceremony.
The Anderson Community Schools' athletic teams will continue to use the Indians name and logo, but the pipe routine performed before Anderson High School's basketball games is being eliminated immediately under recommendations unanimously approved Tuesday by the district's school board.
Superintendent Dr. Joe Cronk proposed the changes, which include moving toward initiating a formal partnership with the Delaware Tribe of Indians to modernize some of the district’s most visible traditions.
The district formed a task force this year to review how it represents the Native American history of the city of Anderson, which is named after William Anderson, a former chief of the Delaware (Lenape) Tribe.
That review came after a widely-viewed video posted to TikTok in February showed the pregame routine, where a student dressed as the school's American Indian mascot and another dressed as an American Indian maiden perform a dance and a peace pipe is passed among the team’s cheerleaders.
The video prompted hundreds of people to contact the school and school board to share “concerns, support, and feedback,” according to the school's internal review, WXIN-TV reported.
“Really, all the comments that we had cluster around the dance and the peace pipe ritual,” Cronk said.
The district's review states that, “From the start in 1925, the intention behind the Indian symbol at Anderson High School has been to honor Native Americans.”
But Cronk said Native Americans had told the district that the pregame pipe ceremony was inappropriate.
“The Delaware tribe of Indians and most Native American tribal members have made it clear through this process that having students or any non-native individuals dressing up in native regalia and performing routines and ceremonies that they hold as a sacred component of their culture is in no way honoring them,” he said.
Members of the American Indian Movement who attended Tuesday’s meeting said that eliminating that pipe routine wasn’t enough, The Herald Bulletin reported. They spoke in favor of abandoning not only the pregame routine but also the Indians name and logo.