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'Indian' Mascots Will Be Replaced At Six Hillsborough County Schools

May 14, 2019

Six schools in Hillsborough County are removing mascots that depict Native Americans as Braves, Indians, Warriors or Chiefs, and will replace them with something new.

The changes come after a parent advisory group representing Native Americans asked to work with the schools to prevent negative stereotypes and boost understanding of native history and culture.

Shannon Durant traces her lineage to the Rancho Mechoopda Tribe in Chico, California. She took issue with the Indian mascot depiction at Summerfield Elementary.

"It's offensive that you walk into Summerfield and it's a cartoon character. It's not representing a Native American," Durant said.

Summerfield joins others making changes, including Adams Middle, and elementary schools at Brooker, Forest Hills, Ruskin and Thonotosassa. But East Bay High and Chamberlain High will not. 

Parent Jaymie Perez, whose lineage is Oglala Lakota from the Pine Ridge Reservation and Eastern Band Cherokee from the North Carolina region, says talks are ongoing.

"In a perfect world we would like to see all Native American mascots be eliminated. Whether or not that is going to happen in Hillsborough County or not, that is still up for negotiation," she said.

"We are a people. We are a nation. We are not reduced down to a caricature equivalent to Minnie Mouse or Mickey Mouse." 

Minerva Spanner-Morrow is chief diversity officer for Hillsborough County Schools.

"We don't want to reduce the Native American images and mascots to the level of a cartoon or stereotyping the culture, and so the families worked with our school administration and our principals and our parents to look at a better option going forward," she said.

Parents and students will vote on new mascots, which will take effect as early as 2020.