Native Themed Sports Mascots Still Prevalent in Kansas High Schools

In 2012, MaxPreps reported that “Indians” was the #4 most popular mascot for Kansas high schools. Today, nearly 1 out of every 10 schools in the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) appropriates Native imagery or culture. It’s not just the schools with “Indians” mascots; it’s also the “Chieftains”, “Braves”, ”Warriors”, “Red Raiders”, “Redmen”, and even the racial slur “R*dskins” that schools are using. These problematic mascots aren’t just limited to the racial stereotypes and caricatures of Native Americans, but schools also appropriate cultural symbols like thunderbirds, which are sacred manitous in many tribal beliefs.

Social pressure in 2020 prompted professional sports teams like the Washington Football Team and the Cleveland Baseball Team to change their mascots, and that social pressure is now being felt by local high schools.

Wichita Public Schools announced on Facebook, “… it is time to have a community conversation to change the North High mascot.” Other school boards are also addressing community concerns like Manhattan High which voted 4-3 to revisit their mascot.

Public discussion on mascots has prompted activism from local communities. Hays High alumna Delphine Burns created an online petition to change the school’s mascot which was met with an opposing petition days later by current Hays High student Cade Becker to keep it. Even future students are getting involved; 11 year old Halley Vincent has been collecting letters to present to her local school board to change the Shawnee Mission North High mascot and to acknowledge the history of the school and town in relation to the Shawnee people.

Despite the recent rise in public discussion and awareness surrounding Native mascots, organizations like the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) has been opposing the use of Native mascots for decades having launched their first public campaign in 1968. The American Psychological Association (APA) has corroborated the long held beliefs of these organizations that American Indian mascots are harmful, and in 2005 the APA called for, “the immediate retirement of all American Indian mascots, symbols, images and personalities by schools, colleges, universities, athletic teams and organizations.”

Fifteen years later, local organizations like the Not In Our Honor coalition are still needed to advocate against the use of Native themed mascots. While school boards and communities are contemplating making the change, Rhonda LeValdo from the Not In Our Honor coalition feels that broader guidance from Kansas legislation is needed. LeValdo plans to present a community led bill in 2021 banning Native mascots in Kansas public schools.

Kansas High School American Indian Mascots

Andale High – Indians
Argonia High – Red Raiders
Atchison High School – Redmen
Bonner Springs High – Braves
Circle High – Thunderbirds
Clearwater High – Indians
Council Grove Jr.-Sr. High – Braves
Glasco High – Warriors
Hays High – Indians
Hoxie High – Indians
Larned Sr. High – Indians
Liberal Sr. High – R*dskins
Little River High – R*dskins
Manhattan High West-East Campus – Indians
Marion High – Warriors
Medicine Lodge Jr.-Sr. High – Indians
Miltonvale High – Warriors
North High – R*dskins
Osage City High – Indians
Oswego Jr.-Sr.High – Indians
Peabody-Burns Jr.-Sr. High – Warriors
Satanta Jr.-Sr. High – Indians
Shawnee Heights High – Thunderbirds
Shawnee Mission North High – Indians
Skyline High – Thunderbirds
Smith Center Jr Sr. High – Redmen
South Barber 7-12- Chieftans
St Francis High – Indians
St. Paul High – Indians
Tonganoxie High – Chieftans
Wamego High – Red Raiders
Wheatland High – Thunderhawks
Wichita County Jr.-Sr.High – Indians

4 Comments

  1. I personally emailed Levaldo. She might choose to share it. As a mass communicator, let us hope she shares it.

    Honoring an Indian is easy,
    Tamara
    Former Indian

  2. there are some that complain and others that don’t care at all. about the mascots, but if it offends u don’t look or don’t watch. a lot of people and tribes should follow what the Seminoles have done in Florida. they didn’t whine and cry they got to work doing what was needed to make sure there members got something out of it. Also those who are offended and whining about this need to wake up and realize they want us out of the history books, they want us not recognized, if they didn’t have to talk about us at all they wouldn’t period. even if u find these mascots offensive everybody needs to remember it like this there used to be an Indian sitting at the bottom of the Stanford logo, natives complained and it was changed but like they wanted we forgot and so did most of them. yea they will most gladly change them but if they change who will remember? sure we natives will but will the other races even ask what a Redman, redskin, or Indian is later?

  3. I am proud to report that the Board of Education of Atchison USD409 schools has voted unanimously to get rid of the Atchison High School Redmen and Atchison Middle School Braves mascots.
    A new mascot search is open to public input at this point.


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