Is it time to retire the Anderson High School Redskins?

CINCINNATI -- When Anderson High School administrators decided in 1936 their athletic teams would be "the Redskins," Franklin Delano Roosevelt was president of the United States and representation of Native Americans in mainstream media was, to say the least, deeply wanting.

In the 82 years between that date and Monday night's Forest Hills Board of Education meeting, many other athletic programs that once used Native American mascots have retired them in favor of team names that don't attract protest from real Native Americans.

"The use of the term 'Redskins' is derogatory and racist," wrote the chiefs of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Seminole and Muscogee nations in a 2013 resolution. "The term perpetuates harmful stereotypes, even if it is not intentional, and continues the damaging practice of relegating Native people to the past."

Earlier, facing similar criticism, Miami University decided in '96 it would cheer for the RedHawks; Dartmouth has been represented by the Big Green rather than the Indians since '74; and Seattle University opted to leave the Chieftains in the 20th century.

Nicknames and iconography the chiefs and other activists decried as racist remain, however, in Washington, in Cleveland and in Cincinnati, where Anderson students, parents and alumni gathered to voice their feelings about a possible change.

"I have not yet talked to anyone who has ever graduated from Anderson High School who was ever offended by that name," alumnus Ron Clark, who graduated in '55, said. "We are proud to be the mighty Redskins."

His was the minority opinion, however. 

"A mascot is not a tradition," alumna Kelly Holterhoff, who graduated in 2003, said. "A mascot represents the image that we portray to the community. A 'redskin' is not the image I believe we should communicate to our community."

Other speakers said their distaste for the mascot kept them from wearing school shirts or chanting school songs during athletic events. 

The board did not vote Monday night on a proposal to change or retire the team name. Members said they wanted a recommendation from a committee before they made a final decision.

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