CEDAR CITY — Is Cedar High School's Redman mascot divisive or a unifying force?
Should the Redmen, the school's mascot since the early 1940s, be retired or kept? These are just two questions the Iron County Board of Education is weighing after launching a review in November.
The board will conduct a special meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday in the board chambers, 2077 W. Royal Hunte Drive, to discuss the mascot issue and vote.
"It's been a great process," board President Stephen Allen said in an earlier interview.
"There have been times I felt the weight of the world, where I felt I'm making the whole community angry. But I'm now at the point I'm really optimistic about the situation. I think it's been a healthy dialogue and something that's been needed to be discussed in our community."
The board's next regularly scheduled meeting is Feb. 26, but Allen, as one member of the five-person board, said he wanted to address the issue sooner "because it is very divisive. I would like the community to heal from this process no matter what decision is made. We've had a lot of time to look at this over the years."
Last month, the school board heard reports from a committee empaneled to study the issue and make recommendations to the board, one that supports change and the other that says the mascot should be retained.
According to Powerpoint presentations presented to the board, committee members who support a change say it is time to "transition to a new mascot in a manner that promotes inclusivity and strengthens community connections."
But supporters of the current mascot say: "Many in our community feel the push for change is coming from outside our community and is causing divisiveness. Many ask the question, 'When will this end?' 'What is next?'"
Earlier, the mascot committee voted 17-7 recommending to change the mascot.
The decision to form a study committee "is not a result of any specific incident, but rather a culmination of frequent concerns that have been brought forth," according to a press release issued by the school district in November.
The Cedar Paiute Tribe did not request a name change but was supportive of the district’s review, the release states.
Members of the mascot committee gave presentations to the school board, with supporters of change asking the board to consider what's best for students.
"This is about doing what's right — not majority rule or popularity polls," the change advocates' presentation stated.
The presentation included a quote by Cedar High School senior, who urges change.
“As a Cedar High School student and a Paiute member, I do not feel honored to be a 'Redmen.' … I’ve seen a lot of disrespect on my culture at the school. … I’m speaking for the students that feel pressured to speak up because they don’t want to deal with the hate, bullying and judgment," said Thalia Guerrero. "I know I’m not alone but I will stand alone if I have to.”
People who support retaining the Redmen mascot, meanwhile, cited tradition, expense of making the change and an "identifier" for current students and former alumni as a rationale for making no change.
The presentation quotes an unnamed Cedar High alumnus who said: "I learned more about actual honor by becoming a Redmen than I ever learned from a textbook telling me of the Red Man's history. I know that symbolism can be sacred as I've seen the tile mosaic of the Cedar Redmen at CHS and have always known to never walk or lay a hand on it out of respect. I know that dances and singing can be prayers because I've been a part of them and also seen them take place.7 comments on this story
"I know that native people fight racism and bigoted commentary as I've experienced it while representing CHS and that taught me resilience, strength in numbers and pride in the face of adversity. I quite literally feel a connection to my native brothers and sisters because I was included rather than excluded from their traditions and allowed to celebrate their symbol and traditions. I was included and allowed to celebrate their symbols and history.
"I was included and allowed to become part of a red and gold tribe that had my back. I was included and given a name that I will fight for! Redmen till the day I die."