Mascot list narrowed to seven

Yuma School District-1 now is actively seeking feedback from the students in regards to the pending mascot change.
The Yuma-1 Board of Education held a work session Monday night in the Yuma Middle School Commons to get more public input. It was decided by the end of the meeting try to gauge the feelings of students at Yuma High School and YMS. A Google Works form would be created that could be accessed by all students.

Previously, a list of 15 potential new mascots, submitted by community members, had been determined at the board’s September meeting. The district sought more public input on those 15. Now the list is at seven, as they were the only ones of the 15 to get any support.
The list of seven being presented to the students is: Tribe, Yetis, Aggies, Pioneers, Bison, Huntsmen and Lightning.
The board will review all the community feedback again Monday at its regular monthly meeting. The timeline calls for the board selecting a new mascot at its November 15 regular meeting. That gives the district time to begin working with companies for developing a new logo, which will be approved at the January meeting so the district can begin ordering new uniforms for fall sports. (The district has until June 1, 2022 to eradicate the Indians mascot, as dictated by Senate Bill 21-116 passed earlier this year by the Colorado Legislature.)
Even then, Athletic Director/Dean of Students Michael Dischner said Monday that the timeline might be tighter than originally thought thanks to the worldwide supply chain dilemma.
Fifteen people attended the work session, Monday night, including Dischner and YHS Principal Brady Nighswonger.
The board was asked about the possibility of the Native American Guardians Association’s lawsuit against the state over Senate Bill 21-116, resulting in an injunction that could lead to Yuma keeping its Indians mascot.
Board President Dan Ross said it would be wonderful if it worked, and the district will not make changes until it has to, but needs to be prepared to move forward. He pointed out that even if an injunction is granted, there is no guarantee it would hold up.
Board member Duane Brown addressed the lawsuit, prefacing his comments by pointing out he practiced law in New Mexico for 33 years before moving back to Yuma five years ago.
He said the lawsuit’s filing is in federal district court. NAGA is trying to freeze the mascot law while preparing its case.
Brown noted that whichever side would lose a potential hearing in federal district court most likely would appeal it. It could move through several levels of the judicial system, and Brown noted the courts are notoriously slow in getting anything done.
He said in his opinion, NAGA is battling a war that already has been lost, noting that the changing of Native American mascots for schools and teams has been taking place for decades.
“It’s being eradicated, eliminated, that’s just a fact,” Brown said. “…We fought our battle, and we lost (in the legislature)…because we didn’t have the votes.”
He also noted that NAGA wants this to be a test case, so likely will push it as far as it can. “We need to move forward, Brown said. “…Hanging our hat on that is a false hope.”
Superintendent Dianna Chrisman also explained none of the recognized Native American tribes with ties to Colorado are willing to support Yuma keeping “Indians,” and even those schools that have agreements are worried those might be canceled by the cooperative Native American tribe in the future.
Board member Thomas Holtorf said that as much as it pains him, the district cannot afford to be in compliance by June 1.
“We can tilt at windmills all day long, but sooner or later we need to realize we are fighting a losing battle,” he said.
Board member Lyndsey Galles told the crowd she listened to all the testimony in the committee hearings earlier this year, and while some of the people might have been paid, there was a lot of heart-wrenching testimony about the harm Native American mascots have on Native Americans, and that needs to be acknowledged. She said the community can make it something negative, or instead can make it something positive and fun moving forward.
Community member Charlotte Parks said she is a Loveland High School graduate, and that school changed from Indians last year. “It doesn’t do any good,” she said, “we need to move forward.”
“Tribe” remains one of the options for a new nickname and mascot, and is receiving strong community support.
However, district leaders voiced concerns that “Tribe” will not be accepted. It was noted that if one does an internet search for “Tribe” Native American images, though there are plenty of other examples of Tribe, and the definition does not explicitly refer to Native Americans.
Brown said there is language in the state statute that could eliminate use of “Tribe” but the district is trying to get clarification
Chrisman said she was told if Yuma went for Tribe, it would have to reach out to Native Americans for their blessing
Community member Robert Smith, a YHS graduate, said Tribe goes back to Biblical times, and the district actually could cause more problems by diminishing the many cultures and institutions related to a “Tribe.”
Concerns were voiced also that the youth probably would like to have some kind of imagery associated with the new mascot, rather than just the word “Tribe” and a “Y.”
Of all the remaining potential mascots, it was noted it needs to be able to fit in with Yuma’s red-and-white colors, which are not going to be changed.
Community member Eric Metcalfe, a YHS graduate, has been waging a campaign for “Yetis” while admitting he was not the one who submitted it in the first place. He made a good-natured, persuasive argument for Yetis at Monday’s meeting.

He noted that everything is so serious anymore, it would be good to have a little fun with school sports and a mascot. The nickname also would fit in with the red-and-white color scheme, and there could be a lot of great cheers to come from having Yetis as the mascot.
“It checks every box,” he said.
Principal Nighswonger said the loss of the “Indians” mascot hurts because the community has invested into it over the years. He said the new mascot probably should be something the community can buy into.
Metcalfe also noted during the meeting that, in the end, Yumans take pride in their community and their teams regardless of the mascot name It has never been about being “Indians” but being part of the Yuma community.
As mentioned above, the board will discuss it further at its regular monthly meeting, Monday night.