Students share doubts about mascots By Amsley Willers

Over time the mascot at Bellevue East has been questioned by a lot of students. Every year students always bring up wanting to change the Native American Mascot. Sonntag-Brown is a English teacher at Bellevue East and is also the advisor for the diversity club.

“I’ve been teaching here 13 years and every year this conversation comes up, and I would say this this year has been the year that it seems like we’re actually going to do something eventually.” instructor Sonntag-Brown said.

From a poll that was taken about changing the mascot, It shows that under half of the students that took the poll are uncomfortable and want to change the mascot. Out of the 96 responses 38 percent of students felt that the mascot at Bellevue East was not respectful to Native americans and 52 percent of students felt that it was respectful. 

Sierra Bloden-Espinoza is a junior at Bellevue East. She believes that the mascot should be changed because it’s outdated and it oppresses people with an old stereotype. She doesn’t think that it is appropriate to have this mascot and students that go to Bellevue east aren’t fully educated on the meaning of Chieftain. 

“I don’t think they really care , because they aren’t educated on the racial history  of the mascots” junior  Sierra Bloden-Espinoza said.

 When asked about changing the mascot,35 students were 100% okay with the mascot being changed. On the poll that was taken 30 students said that they were 100% not comfortable with the mascot being changed. 

Kendra Dragon is a former Bellevue East student who graduated in 2020. She says that the mascot is disrespectful to Native Americans. Dragon says that having Native American mascot can have horrible effects on the students who are Native American because other students don’t recognize the culture behind the mascot. 

“I don’t think that Native American imagery is appropriate for schools or sports. These schools, specifically Bellevue East, I can tell you as a former student that the Native American culture is not taught how it should be.” Kendra Dragon said.

When Dragon went to Bellevue East she said that the Native American culture was not taught how she believes it should be taught. Bloden-Espinoza who is a current student at Bellevue East says that she thinks that a lot of kids that go to Bellevue East don’t really understand Native American culture.

“I think people understand it to an extent  but are not truly educated on their culture and I’m not fully educated on it either.”junior  Sierra Bloden-Espinoza said.

Abigail Jackson is a senior at Bellevue East. She was asked how she felt about the Chieftain mascot. She says that Bellevue East should change the mascot out of respect for Native American culture.

“I think that the name chieftain could be very offensive to some because, again, it plays into a whole culture that we don’t have any right to really play in to.I feel like we shouldn’t be using others cultures or symbols as our own, especially since we aren’t really taught the history behind it.” senior Abigail Jackson said.

Bolden-Espinoza says when people at East call each other Chieftain it feels like cultural appropriation. Ryan Wagner is a current junior at Bellevue East. She believes that the mascot should be changed. 

“Considering we are not a majority Native American population then yes [having the name Chieftain is offensive].” junior Ryan Wagner said.

In the article “The Psychology of Native American Sports Mascots” written by John M. Grohol writes about Native American and Indian mascots and the effects that it has on students. The article also talks about the psychological aspect of having Native American mascot.

“Exposure to American Indian mascot images has a negative impact on American Indian high school and college students’ feelings of personal and community worth, and achievement-related possible selves.”-John M. Grohol, Psy.D. Psych Central

In another article “Ending the Era of Harmful “Indian” Mascots” written by the National Congress of American Indians. This article talks about the opposition to harmful “Indian” sports mascots. The harmful stereotypes that having a Native American mascot causes with students that go to these schools that have them.

“Specifically, rather than honoring Native peoples, these caricatures and stereotypes are harmful, perpetuate negative stereotypes of America’s first peoples, and contribute to a disregard for the personhood of Native peoples.”-National Congress of American Indians