Lamar School District Offering Lamar Thunder as Mascot Alternative

The Colorado Commission on Indian Affairs ruled the newly offered Lamar Savage mascot and logo (Savage Thunder) does not meet with the Commission’s approval.  The Re-2 district school board made its most recent presentation to the CCIA on Friday, April 15th via Zoom, during which Superintendent, Dr. Chad Krug used the five-minute allotted time slot to explain how the board and mascot committee decided upon two choices they submitted to the Commission.  At that time, the Commission said they would have a ruling for the district by May 19th.  Last week’s decision resulted in the CCIA making no motion to remove the Lamar School District from their list.

Both artistic representations depicted a charging buffalo or bison which would become the new mascot given the CCIA’s approval.  The board had presented the first recommendation as the Lamar Savages, maintaining the mascot name with the bison image, the second choice depicted the same bison with the logo, Savage Thunder, the name of the bison.

Both were rejected by the Commission, principally on the use of the term, Savage, which had been originally objected to in light of the passage of SB21-116 into law earlier this year.  Basically, it bans schools from having Native American mascots without a tribe’s permission.  Multiple schools across Colorado were faced with a deadline of creating either new logos or mascots which would not be deemed offensive to Native Americans or their historical culture or be fined $25,000 monthly beginning June 1st, 2022.During the board’s April 15th presentation, Dr. Krug highlighted the efforts the administration had taken to comply with the mandate, going so far as to begin removing the imagery from school vehicles and some school walls in anticipation of the new logos being found acceptable.

Once school board members found the CCIA decided against the changes, once out of executive session on May 19th, the board passed a resolution to offer a third choice, that of Lamar Thunder as their alternative, eliminating any references to Savages by June 1st.  The CCIA did not act on the last recommendation which was made to them in the chat session, open comment portion during the fifth hour of the meeting on the 19th.

Superintendent Krug later said the CCIA had sent some mixed signals to the district during their April 15th meeting.  “We suggested a bison as an alternative at that time, but some of the CCIA board indicated that the buffalo or bison was also a part of Native American historical culture, which suggested to us, that was not a path to follow.”  Krug expressed surprise on May 19th when Arickaree schools changed their image to a bison from an Indian and the CCIA praised them for its representation.  Krug added it would have been very helpful to have a personal representative from the CCIA who could have worked with the district for an early, acceptable solution.  He said the lack of communication, in light of the fact that we’re dealing with schools, not corporations where kid’s educations come into play, the changes should represent a model for growth, not for determining winners or losers.

Krug said he believed the CCIA felt their suggestions were being clearly understood by the Lamar District Board, but that wasn’t the case.  “The board has really been tasked with some issues of concerns such as providing our staff with a salary recommendation, while in the back of their minds, they’re also dealing with a possible $25,000 monthly fine.  The board has been trying incredibly hard to merge two essential items, the community’s desires and maintaining a quality staff so we can educate the students of our community.”

The CCIA took eleven schools off their non-compliant list on May 19th once they retired their mascots or developed partnerships with various tribes which allowed them to maintain their mascots.  The CCIA also added several schools to the list that used the mascot of a Thunderbird and these schools now have a year to find an acceptable mascot or face the same fine.

Dr. Krug said he will be in contact with the CCIA prior to June 1st to learn if Lamar Thunder will be acceptable.
By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of LamarEducationSchool


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