COLORADO SPRINGS — Cheyenne Mountain School District 12 will have to change the mascot for one of their schools after it was deemed in violation of a state law that prohibits the use of Native American mascots by public schools.

Colorado Senate Bill 21-116 was signed into law in 2021 and prohibits the use of Native Americans and related symbolism as mascots for all public, charter, and institute charter schools.

Cheyenne Mountain Junior High School’s (CMJH) current mascot is a Thunderbird — a mythical creature in certain North American indigenous peoples’ history and culture. It is considered a supernatural being of power and strength.

In a note sent out to parents and staff, the district explained that the Thunderbird mascot had been deemed in violation of SB21-116, and would have until June 16, 2023, to completely remove the existing “Thunderbirds” mascot and all associated physical and digital imagery from the school to be compliant with state law. 

The district went on to explain that in preparation for the change, CMJH Principal Candice Johnson, along with members of her team, students, staff, and parents, will engage in a process to solicit and identify new mascot options this fall.

The district said top choices will be presented to the Board of Education second semester for their consideration. Once the new CMJH mascot has been determined, it will be in effect beginning the 2023-24 school year and will be communicated to students, staff, and families.

The school will maintain the Thunderbird mascot for the 2022-23 school year.