If you want to know more about the research on Native American sports mascots, official statements, and the increasing efforts to address the issue nationally, check out these LINKS.
You can search Talawanda School District policies on bullying and harassment HERE.
SOME LOCAL HISTORY
When the local Talawanda City Schools board decided to build a new high school, Oxford Citizens for Peace and Justice was asked by a group of students from Talawanda High School and the Oxford chapter of the NAACP to join a Coalition for a New Talawanda Mascot.
The old mascot was chosen in 1956 when the then “new” high school was built. The suggestion that the new sports mascot be known as the Talawanda Braves came from an eight-year-old child, who may have been influenced by Hollywood’s portrayal of Native Americans. The image was a male with fire engine red skin wearing a large earring and feathers.
Given the progress we have made as a community and nation on racial discrimination since the 1950s, it seemed reasonable to suggest it was time to choose a new mascot for the new school being built south of Oxford. Add in the growing body of research on the harmful effects of institutional racism on children of all races, and the increasing number of schools, districts and states that have eliminated their own race-based mascots citing civil rights concerns, it seemed reasonable to suggest that if Talawanda officials and teachers studied the psychological and educational ramifications of the Braves name and image they might change it. That was all we asked, and a petition signed by nearly 300 citizens of the district backed our request. It seemed reasonable, but identity is rarely open to reason.
Despite the efforts of the coalition, in 2010 the board chose not to study the issue further stating, “the majority of the citizens in the Talawanda School District agree that the Braves mascot is not offensive and they favor its continued use.”
When the new school was built the president of the school board asked why the mascot head was “not included anywhere in the new building, stadium, or field house,” and asked that the superintendent form a committee to clarify the Braves logo. In 2012, the board chose a new logo with the head now a blue silhouette. In a newspaper article, Board President Mark Butterfield is quoted as claiming that the number of people who approved the offensive image “overpowered” those who did not. In other words, whiteness just didn’t hold the majority, it overpowered. Again. As it has for hundreds of years.
The old logo is still appears in district communications, on letter jackets, on the tower holding the victory bell, the athletic boosters, and as the only image choice other than capital “T” for ordering Talawanda clothing, including Glee Club shirts.
For more on the history of that effort check out the links below for the articles that appeared in our newsletter.
In November of 2018, the Talawanda School Board voted 3-2 to change the mascot from “Braves” to “Brave.” A brief report on this change acknowledges the significance of this vote.