Pocatello High School is not catching flak for its American Indian mascot because the school was "sensitized" in the 1970s, officials say.
Indian rights activist Dennis Banks toured the country in the 1970s, encouraging Indians to protest unflattering depictions of their race by other groups. Pocatello High came under attack then for a mascot named Osky Ow Wow. "We didn't mean anything derogatory," said Jim Chatterton, Pocatello athletic director. "(But) the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes thought he was offensive, so we got rid of him."
Clyde Hall, a magistrate judge for the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, agreed the mascot was unacceptable.
"A number of Indians found it rather offensive," Hall said. "The Osky Ow Wow was a little Mohawk-looking guy with buck teeth, dark skin, big round eyes and a Mohawk haircut. A number of people protested, and Osky Ow Wow was sent to the happy hunting grounds."
Hall said he believes there is no problem with other Indian-related articles worn by Pocatello High School students.
The headdresses worn by the Indianettes and the Pocatello Chiefs are not authentic war bonnets, Hall said. They are not made of eagle feathers and are not worn in a parody as the Osky Ow Wow head was, he said.
A lot of Fort Hall residents are proud that Pocatello High students are known as the Indians, he said.
"They have been sensitized," he said. "The Osky Ow Wow controversy did that."
When the Atlanta Braves started the Indian tomahawk chop, some students suggested it might be a good thing for the Poky Indians.
"We talked to the student senate and told them we didn't think it was a good idea," Chatterton said.
Personally, Hall was not bothered by the Atlanta Braves fans' chop.
Hall said some Indians see such portrayals in the same light as the old black-faced minstrel shows, Hall said. He noted Indians do not seem to be as upset if an Indian dons non-authentic garb to be an Indian mascot.
Other Idaho schools with Indian mascots include the Boise Braves, Buhl Indians, Nez Perce Indians, Preston Indians, Salmon Savages, Shoshone-Bannock Chiefs and Teton Redskins.