There are now 15.
The Yuma School District-1 Board of Education trimmed the list of submissions for a new mascot during its regular monthly meeting, Monday night at the district office located on the southern edge of downtown Yuma.
Yuma-1 needs to eliminate “Indians” which has been around since the mid-1930s for a new mascot, and incorporate a new one during the current school year. That is because Senate Bill 21-116 was passed by the Colorado Legislature during this year’s session, dictating that all public schools with Native American mascots must have them removed by June 1, 2022.
Four of the five board members participated in Monday’s meeting, Dan Ross, Lindsey Galles, and Duane Brown in person, and Kim Langley remotely. Board member Thomas Holtorf was absent.
Yuma-1 has been accepting submissions for a new mascot for the past several weeks, leading up to the September board meeting. There were 36 community submissions, representing 22 options, by the September 15 deadline.
The board then narrowed down the possible new mascots Monday night to 15 — basically eliminating those that now way would be accepted for various reasons.
Following are the remaining 15:
• Ring Necks.
Yuma-1 again will have submission forms available for the public to comment on which choices they like the best. There was talk about having some kind of social media poll, or a Survey Monkey poll, but it was noted the explanations given behind each original submission was very thoughtful, and it would be preferable to have that again instead of just clicking on a poll.
October 8 is the deadline for community feedback on the remaining 15. The board will have a work session on October 11 to gain more input in person from the public. The board then will have more discussion on the topic at its October meeting.
The timeline calls for the board to select the new mascot at the November meeting. The district then will work with companies for a new logo, which will be selected in time for the fall sports uniforms to be ordered in a timely fashion.
The Pioneers and the Tribe each had the most among the 36 public submissions, each receiving seven.
“What I appreciated is they provided the rationale,” Superintendent Dianna Chrisman said of all the submissions. “I think all of them had a connection to Yuma or Yuma’s history.”
Several suggestions were eliminated Monday night, for various reasons. Yuma was the Cornhuskers for about 15 years before switching to Indians in the mid-1930s. Someone suggested returning to Cornhuskers, but there was concern about the University of Nebraska having copyright privileges. The suggestion of “Tall Bulls” was eliminated because it refers to a Native American chief killed in the 1880s. “Arrows” was thrown out because of its Native American connection. Others tossed out on the first cut included Red Renegades, Thunderbirds, Hawks, and Red Hawks.
Board member Duane Brown expressed concerns about Tribe because of its connection to Native Americans. Ross said the term goes back to Biblical times and is used all over the world, so he felt it would be acceptable. Galles said there is a lot of ways to define Tribe. Brown said he agreed, but had concerns it would not be accepted.
Board members did talk about how those behind the state legislation, with passions running high, creates a wide-ranging gray area that they could find unacceptable. Some suggestions were eliminated because board members noted they did not want Yuma’s new mascot to be one that is used by several different schools.
It also was discussed how imagery was more important than the mascot word itself. It was brought up that Lamar still was going to keep “Savages” but would eliminate its imagery, and that Eaton has stuck with “Reds” but just got rid of its Native American caricature imagery.
Chrisman said during the discussion that the cost to change the mascot is definitely nearing $400,000 to the district, so the community needs to be committed to the mascot change, whichever one is chosen.
The state legislation dictates school districts such as Yuma must make the change, and eliminate all imagery by June 1.
Ross asked Chrisman how likely the district will be able to meet that deadline, and if it would have to pay the monthly fine of $25,000 if it did not.
Chrisman said the district probably can get most of it done by June 1, but the gym floors probably would not be done until summer vacation. She said Yuma-1 is working with other impacted districts and the Rural School Alliance to be allowed some leeway. She said the public would not be in the gyms during the summer anyway and they could not be done until then unless they are taken away as classroom space.
“I think as long as we have the good-faith effort…I think we’ll be okay,” Chrisman said, adding that at this point there is no guarantee.
There are now 15.