Shawnee Mission, KS — Eleven year old Halley Vincent is asking the Haskell Indian Nations University (HINU) community to help petition her local school board to change the mascot of Shawnee Mission North High School. Vincent sees the school’s mascot “The Shawnee Indians” as problematic and thinks now is the ‘ideal time’ to change it.
“The Shawnee people did not wear the Lakota style headdress shown on the Shawnee Mission North mascot,” says Vincent whose step father is Lakota (Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe). She says there are a lot of reasons to remove appropriated Native mascots, one of which is the history of the area’s three religious Indian mission labor schools. Vincent says, “[The] Shawnee Mission School District doesn’t acknowledge any of that real history. Even though it’s in their name.” She plans to petition the district’s school board on November 16th.
“Covid is an IDEAL time to change jerseys or remove offensive Indian themed items…” says Vincent, but the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t the only reason she is asking for change now. As a sixth grader, Vincent and her mother have talked about High School, and if Shawnee Mission North isn’t in the process of changing the mascot by then, Vincent may not attend her mother’s alma mater. Even more pressing, Vincent says she would like to see change before Shawnee Mission North’s 100 year anniversary in 2022.
Vincent has received a lot of support from her family and community for her activism. Her mother Alisha said, “Those are HER talents in this world. Writing and memorizing and noticing when people need to pay attention to something. She’s a bridge.”
Glena Wallace, Chief of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe said, “I am touched that a young person can understand this when older adults can’t. I congratulate this young girl and wish her success in her efforts to eliminate the use of Indian imagery as mascots.”
To help accomplish her goals, Vincent is asking the community to write letters to Heather Ousley, Board President of the Shawnee Mission School District explaining the harm of the mascot and asking for change. Vincent would like to present the letters together herself at the board meeting and is requesting that they be directed to Heather Ousley but addressed on the envelope to Halley Vincent, 6201 Nieman Rd, Unit #3354, Shawnee, KS 66203.
Photo and interview permissions granted by parent Alisha Vincent.