ANDERSON TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Anderson High School students are Raptors now, administrators announced Friday morning.
The school’s new velociraptor mascot, which was selected by students, staff and alumni, is a prehistoric predator unburdened by the racial baggage that its predecessor — a Native American character representing the Anderson “Redskins”— brought to the school.
“In the face of a historic pandemic and passionately different perspectives, the AHS family was able to unify, choose a new mascot, and raise nearly $300,000 to date” to support the rebranding, according to a news release from Forest Hills School District spokesperson Angela Ingram.
The Forest Hills School District voted in July 2020 to retire the “Redskins” name, which had been criticized by Native American groups who described it as racist and local families who felt the name was uncomfortably outdated.
More than two years of debate preceded the decision for Forest Hills; for the sporting world at large, the conversation around Native American mascots has lasted decades.
Native American groups such as the National Congress for American Indians began protesting the use of “Redskins” and “Indians” mascots in the ‘60s, arguing that they were racist and dehumanizing. Tribal leaders from the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole nations repeatedly pleaded with the NFL’s Washington Redskins to change their name rather than use a “derogatory and racist” term for a real racial group.
The Miami University Redskins, from whom the Anderson team originally adopted its name, became RedHawks in 1996; the Stanford Indians became the Stanford Cardinal in 1981.
And even the Washington Redskins, which picked up the name in 1933 and refused to change it for nearly a century, retired their name and began billing themselves as the Washington Football Team in 2020.
The Raptors will take the field for the first time this fall, according to Ingram.
"We are excited that our mascot is not only unique among Ohio high schools, it is one that is strong, bold, and courageous, all of which are traits found in Anderson’s alma mater," Ingram wrote.