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Students worry about Indian mascot being phased out

The Indian has been the mascot for Anderson High School since the late 1930s or early 1940s. The mascot was made as a tribute to Chief Anderson of the Delaware Indian Tribe. However, students at AHS have noticed that the mascot is being phased away. Whether it’s the mascot not showing up at the basketball games or the floor design of the Indian head in the main hallway being covered up, students have been getting suspicious. Is the school corporation phasing out the mascot?

To figure out why this is a controversial topic, we must trace it back to the start of the problems. Back in 2021, two Anderson students went viral on TikTok after being filmed dressed as Indians and doing a tribal dance. This sparked outrage, and people claimed it was offensive. 

The school had a choice: Either remove the Indian head or endure the outrage. 

In a school board meeting following the incident in July 2022, ACSC stated they would keep the Indian as the mascot. However, it appears to some that they have gone back on their word. 

The board meeting, where the school discussed whether or not to get rid of the mascot.

AHS Student News decided to post a poll on the TribeCast Instagram asking students if they’d rather keep the mascot or remove it. It stayed up for a couple of hours, before Principal Scott Shimer asked us to remove it. From the 30 responses we received, however, 24 students said they wanted to keep the mascot, while four people said they wanted to get rid of it, and one person was undecided. 

After that, we figured we had to go to the source of this change. AHS Student News talked to Dr.  Joe Cronk, the school’s superintendent, and Brad Meadows, the school’s director of district and community engagement. It was from them that we learned the history of our mascot. 

The Indian mascot was made as a tribute to Chief Anderson of the Delaware Tribe of Indians. It was from this tribe that the school got permission from for the mascot, or at least so they thought.

It was from Cronk and Meadows that we learned that the school didn’t even have the permission to use the mascot. “One thing is that in Native American culture, they don’t argue with you, they just don’t talk to you,” Cronk said. “So if they disagree with you, you have every right to have your opinion, and they have every right not to agree. And so rather than get in an argument with you, they’ll just walk away. So when we thought in the past when we said, ‘Oh, well, we’ve got the permission of the tribe, and we’ve got the approval of the tribe,’ we didn’t, they just didn’t say anything.”

The mascot they used wasn’t even accurate to the Delaware Tribe. Cronk stated, “There’s no headdress. They don’t wear a bone breastplate. They don’t do the dances that you saw. So they don’t look like those. They did not wear buckskins; they wore what looks like a turban, but it’s just a beaver fur hat. They didn’t use eagle feathers, they didn’t dress like the mascot does. The dances that they do don’t look like the dances that we used to do here. It is not representative of any Native American dance that we have ever researched.” 

After the TikTok video of the mascot dance, ACSC was told by the Delaware Tribe of Indians that the dance was very disrespectful. “How can you purport to honor a group of people that says you’re not honoring them?” Cronk asked. “So are we supposed to say, ‘Oh, sorry, just be quiet. We’re going to honor you in a way that you find disrespectful’?”

After the controversy, Cronk decided to meet with the Delaware Tribe to discuss the matter. Cronk said, “So in our agreement with them, we’re able to keep the name, we’re able to keep our uniforms, all of our signage. But what we agreed to do was no longer dress white people from around here in stereotypical Indian garb doing stereotypical pantomimes of something that they find holy, and to drop the piece pipe routine and to gradually phase out the Indian head because the Indian head that we use is not representative of any Indian group that was here.”

The agreement also stated that new branding put out by the school, such as school shirts, wouldn’t have the Indian head on it. However, legacy memorabilia, such as the walkman or the floor designs would be kept. But if that’s the case, then why was the Indian head covered up with a mat?

As it turns out, covering the Indian at the north entrance had nothing to do with the Indian head. Cronk, on the matter said, “The intent was not to necessarily cover it. Our insurance company routinely audits our facilities, and that linoleum floor is a slip hazard, and so we had to put a mat down. So the covering of that was not intentional, though, whenever we redo the flooring, that will come up, because the Indian head is offensive.”

Indian Head flooring, before and after.

But what about the AHS Student News poll that was suspiciously taken down?

Cronk said, “The student survey is one thing, but then it got out on Instagram, which then got out on Facebook, which then could light up a whole another firestorm about bringing the dance back. And then we could have bad relationships with the tribe, and then they might want us to get rid of the whole thing. So, these agreements and relationships need to be maintained. We’re just trying to, you know, stop a firestorm.”

Cronk and Meadows don’t want to get rid of the mascot. They just want to use it in an appropriate way that’s respectful to the Delaware Tribe. Meadows said, “So I think what we’ve really been able to do, like Dr. Cronk mentioned, that we went directly to the tribe that was here and developed that partnership, so that we can continue our Indians tradition in a responsible way. That’s positive, where we’re not erasing that history. I graduated from Anderson High School 20 years ago. You know, I love this tradition, just like you guys do. You guys are now a part of it. So I think for us we’ve tried to make sure we can continue it in a responsible way. But the idea of phasing it out, understanding what the Delaware tribe feels, and what they’ve told us, we feel that’s just the most responsible thing for us to do.”

Whether or not the Indian head will be replaced with a new mascot or not hasn’t been decided yet, but Cronk is open to commissioning students to create a new mascot if it comes to that.

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Shiann Isenhour
My name is Shiann Isenhour and I am a sophomore. I am quiet, relaxed, pleasant, and caring. I am a big fan of animals. I have 3 cats at home. I have many favorite animals and they are penguins, bearded dragons, and lions. I am interested in writing about entertainment and history-related topics. My hobbies are playing video games, reading, and writing. The type of games I'm interested in are adventure, relaxing, and puzzle games. The kind of book I like to read is fiction that has a lot of action. I try to put a lot of effort into what I write. I like to write in many different ways and genres. I mostly like to write emotional stories. I enjoy writing a lot, and I do it whenever I have free time. Writing is a way to express myself and I can’t wait for you to read what I put out.
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My name is Lily Abbott. I'm a sophomore at Anderson High School. As A member of the school newspaper I enjoy writing about current events and conflicts going on in our school and community. My interest in student news sparked when I found myself and other classmates uninterested in announcements and being uninformormed about school sporting events. I also found that me as well as many other students were not aware of the AHS news website.  Some of my other interests include competitive cheerleading, attending school sporting events, and coaching gymnastics. The most prominent traits I see in myself are emotional intelligence, integrity, optimism, and honesty. I try to share those traits with others around me by being as positive, supportive, and uplifting as possible to others around me. Spending quality time with friends is something very important to me. I personally value all my friends just as much as family.
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