School board votes to retire Cheyenne Mountain High School Indians mascot

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COLORADO SPRINGS — The Cheyenne Mountain School District voted 4-1 to retire the Indians as the High School mascot Monday night.

“We need to support all of our children at all times, and this is a way that we can do that,” School Board Member Monica Peloso said.

A decision that came with controversy and much discussion. School board members spoke about the mascot for over an hour and said this is something that the district has looked into for many years.

After this school year, Cheyenne Mountain High School will no longer have the Indians as its mascot despite some students and alumni fighting to keep it.

“Myself, my husband, my sons, we call ourselves Indians, Cheyenne Mountain Indians, and we say that out of pride and certainly no disrespect,” Alumni Cheryl Guthrie said.

“I would urge you as members of the board, elected members to respond to the great tradition in history of the Cheyenne Mountain Indians and leave the team name as it is,” Alumni Jim Bensberg said.

However, the indigenous people at the meeting said this is something they’ve been working towards for over 30 years, and this is the last native American mascot of the community.

“These mascots not even just here at D-12, but all of them contribute to dehumanizing and objectifying indigenous people, so this is just a little bit of recognizing of something that we already know,” Native American advocate Monycka Snowbird said. “We are still here, and we aren’t going anywhere, and we are apart of this community.”

Randy Case, the only board member not in favor, said this was one of the hardest decisions he’s had to make and thought it was premature to make a change before getting further advice.

“We’ve intended this to be an honoring approach,” Case explained. “To build honor and to show strength of the indigenous people that we share the name Indian with cause there is 75 years of Indians that have gone through this district that are feeling disenfranchise in some cases by this conversation.”

Although, the majority felt like it’s the time for change.

“Now that we know better, we need to do better,” Peloso said. “I love our community, and I love our alumni connections and strong ties that we have here, and I know that it will continue to go on because it is so deep and so strong.”

As for what their next mascot will be, if any, Superintendent Walt Cooper said they’ll begin those discussions with students in the months ahead.

SB21-116 is a bill that will prohibit 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 bill was introduced last month. The bill would impose a fine of $25,000 per month for each month that a school continues to use a mascot after such date, payable to the state education fund.

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