SAGUACHE — The Mountain Valley School District is asking for community members to help choose a new mascot. They are currently the Indians.
Senate Bill 21-116 was signed into law on June 28 by Governor Jared Polis. According to Mountain Valley School District, “The act prohibits the use of American Indian mascots by public schools, including charter and institute charter schools, and public institutions of higher education as of June 1, 2022. The act imposes a fine of $25,000 per month for each month that a public school continues to use a mascot after such date, payable to the state education fund.”
American Indian mascot refers to any name, image, or symbol that refers to any tribe that is used as a nickname, logo, mascot, or team name. The use of American Indian mascots has become a polarizing issue to many Tribes throughout the United States.
In 2018, Mountain Valley School District released a document describing how their mascot and logo were being used to represent the history and culture of Saguache by honoring the seven Ute bands.
The District contacted the Southern Ute Tribe in regards to their mascot in May 2021, however, the Southern Ute band declined to endorse the current logo and instead requested that the school use another symbol to represent the culture of the Saguache area.
According to a letter to the School District from Chairman Melvin J. Baker of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, “Tribal Council did discuss other symbols that reflect Ute culture which are not anthropomorphic in nature and would not run afoul of SB 21-116. In particular, animals of cultural significance to the Tribe include bear, eagle and hawk.”
The district is actively seeking input from all community members to create a mascot that will represent the schools in the future without violating the new law. On the District website is a link to a form for suggestions to choose a new name.