FORT WAYNE – Despite a national debate over the Washington Redskins’ nickname, Fort Wayne’s Redskins team at North Side High School hasn’t heard much discussion – at least this time around, school officials said.
The Washington Redskins’ name has attracted a fresh round of controversy in recent months and is the subject of a long-running legal challenge from a group of American Indians seeking to block the NFL franchise from having federal trademark protection.
President Barack Obama has said team names such as the Redskins offend a sizable group of people and that if he was the team’s owner, he might consider changing the name.
Daniel Snyder, the Washington Redskins’ owner, has said he will not change the name of his team, which has had the name since it was founded in 1932.
Forty-four of the Indiana High School Athletic Association’s 412 members use American Indian names for their sports teams, Sports Information Director Jason Wille said. Local schools have previously faced controversy with Native American names and mascots.
Krista Stockman, Fort Wayne Community Schools spokeswoman, said there has been previous discussion about changing North Side High School’s team name but not recently.
“It’s been a topic of conversation from time to time,” Stockman said.
The district has several schools with similar mascots, including the Shawnee Middle School Braves, the Kekionga Middle School Warriors and the Miami Middle School Indians.
Stockman said concerns have been voiced over the years but the district has never reached the point where the names might be changed.
Jared Young, a North Side High School senior, said he doesn’t believe the controversy will ever change North Side’s team name and mascot.
“In my opinion, our mascot is a sign of strength,” Young said. “ ... We’re not demoting it, we’re promoting it.”
Kirsten Ewing, a North Side freshman, said she wouldn’t be upset with a name change if the mascot was offending others.
“It’s not really a big deal,” she said. “We could probably change it.”
FWCS is not the only area district with Indian names, symbols or mascots. Others include the Bellmont Braves, Woodlan Warriors, Blackhawk Christian Braves and the Wawasee Warriors.
One local university did respond to the controversy a few years ago. In May 2005, Indiana Tech changed its school mascot while keeping its Warriors nickname. The university switched from an American Indian warrior mascot to a Roman warrior.
Janet Schutte, Indiana Tech spokeswoman, said the decision was made to avoid offending any possible constituents and not because of complaints.
“Our current warrior mascot looks more like an ancient Roman or Greek warrior, and it’s better suited for us,” Schutte said.
She said the warrior shows strength and perseverance.