Lamar Re-2 School District Cancels Board Elections, Discusses Steps for Meeting with Indian Affairs Commission

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The Lamar Re-2 School Board met for a special meeting this past Wednesday, September 1st to approve a resolution to cancel the November school board election by acclimation.  It was a unanimous vote derived in part because the number of applications equally matched the number of board openings, negating the need for a ballot question this November.  For District A, Rod Dunn is leaving and Cody Laughlin will be the district replacement.  In District E, Nancy Winsor is leaving and Jerrod Grice will replace her.  Jake Chamberlain remains on the board for District F and Chris Wilkinson remains for District G.

A zoom and in-person meeting followed with Kathryn Redhorse, Executive Director, Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs, regarding the mandated need to alter either the Lamar Savage name or Indian mascot image or both.  Senate Bill 21-116, approved this past summer, calls for a monthly fine of $25,000 for any school district not in compliance with the name/mascot change by May, 2022.

Board members, reflecting the desires of the majority of responding community members, believe their best option would be to maintain the Savage name and create a new mascot that does not refer in any way, to a tribe or member of Indigenous Americans.  The newly created law does allow for a school district to align itself with an Indian tribe which would approve of the district’s curriculum on Indian history.

Many of the questions put to Redhorse by the board, were not answered directly, as she deferred to the decisions of the Commission on Indian Affairs which will hold a series of meetings between September 23rd and May of 2022.  Schools may address the changes they have made or intend to make to determine which of those schools are in compliance with the law and would be removed from the list of those being fined for non-compliance.  Redhorse suggested contacting Eaton School District which will drop its Indian imagery logo but maintain the slogan of, “The Fightin Reds”.  Eaton adopted the Indian oriented mascot in the 1960s.

Board member Jake Chamberlain asked if making the suggested move to discontinue the mascot, but keep the Savage name would suffice to be removed from the list of schools subject to fines by next year.  Redhorse said the next Commission meeting would be held September 23rd and while there wasn’t time to be on the agenda, the board could inquire during the public comments portion of the meeting.  From that, she suggested, they might be able to develop a strategy and by referring to the published guidelines created by the Commission earlier for its next steps.  She said the current list of schools would be ratified at that time.  Board President, Lanie Mireles, said the board would ask to be on the December meeting agenda and offer recommendations for future changes.  However, she asked Redhorse if there was a means by which the Commission could offer a guideline or course corrections to make sure the Lamar board was moving in a direction which would eliminate its status for fines.

Lamar has used the Savage name since 1909 according to available historical records and started using a hand-drawn logo of an Indian around 1914.  It wasn’t until sometime later that the two were melded for future use by the school.  While the name savage does not pertain to any particular tribe and has been used historically, locally, to define the fighting spirit of Lamar’s sports teams, it has been applied over centuries of use in a negative context to Indians in general, including language that appears in the Declaration of Independence. The board also discussed a plan to begin to find a substitute mascot image and may settle on three choices that could be submitted from the general public.  The board will create a written plan in advance for submission at the December meeting.
By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of LamarEducationFeaturedHistorySchool

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