CEDAR CITY —Inspired by the recent changing of the Cedar High School mascot from the Redmen to the Reds, a Southern Utah’s legislator’s resolution seeks to discourage the removal of Native American names, images and symbols unless there is a consensus among affected Native Americans.
Cedar City Rep. Rex Shipp told Cedar City News he decided to sponsor House Joint Resolution 10 in response to concerns in his community after Cedar High’s mascot change.
“There was a lot of division caused in our community in Cedar City when the Redmen name was removed by the school board,” Shipp said. “A lot of the community members, some of them actually being Native Americans, came to me. They were upset.”
Shipp said they told him he needed to something about it.
“I said, ‘Well, government is always best closest to the people, so there’s no way I’m going to make it a law, but maybe we can do some sort of a resolution that discourages removing those names.'”
The resolution aims to encourage the “the appropriate use of names, images, and symbols of Native Americans and other indigenous people by schools or places” while discouraging the removal of such names, images or symbols.
The resolution has not yet reached its second reading and is currently in the House Rules Committee. Shipp said he wants to have full consensus before moving it forward.
“It may take even through the interim,” he said. “We may not end up doing anything with that this session because I want to do something that the Native American tribes here in Utah also buy into and feel like, ‘Yeah, we like what this says, and we like the fact that it’s encouraging a good process.'”
Shipp said he’s been reaching out to affected individuals and Native American tribes to make sure the resolution adequately addresses their concerns.
“Its promoting the appropriate use of these names and symbols and images,” Shipp said. “If you’re going to make a change and remove them, make sure you do a careful, effective process, taking into consideration the affected Native Americans too.”
Shipp added that feedback he has received indicates a desire to more actively involve Native Americans and their culture and history in education.
“It’s just making sure its a careful process,” he said. “I do know that some of the Native American tribes have indicated that they’d like to frankly see more focus on the education in the local schools about their history and get some of the Native Americans themselves involved in the schools.”
St. George Rep. Walt Brooks told Cedar City News it would be premature to form a solid opinion of the resolution given its still in early stages, but he thinks reaching out to the communities before making changes is a good idea.
“I don’t think we should move unilaterally on naming things or taking names off without seeing if this is something they feel is a respectful term or whatever it may be,” Brooks said. “Like any issue that comes up, there’s usually people on both sides of the issue, and I thought this bill was actually addressing both side of it, but like I said I’m still hearing from constituents, people who are concerned about it.”
Brooks said his current understanding of the resolution’s purpose is to encourage acquiring feedback before moving forward with a decision to remove a Native American name or symbol.
“We haven’t heard the debate on the bill, so I’m just hearing from what people interpret it to be,” he said.
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