Vancouver school board backs retiring Chieftain mascot

Columbia River High School photo courtesy Vancouver Public Schools

Vancouver Public Schools in Washington appears ready to retire the mascot at Columbia River High School after hearing feedback that decried its Native American imagery as offensive and racist.

In a workshop Tuesday, the board of directors indicated their support for retiring the mascot image of a Plains Indian chief, The Columbian reported.

Members heard from leaders of local Native American tribes who urged the school district to eliminate the mascot.

“It’s too often a slur,” said Mike Iyall, former vice chairman and current tribal council member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe. “It’s an idea that’s time has passed.”

The board could formally vote to OK its removal at its next meeting. Wendy Smith, school board president, said Tuesday there’s “no cause to keep it in place.”

“We shouldn’t be making Sambos of anyone’s heritage,” school board member Camara Banfield said, referring to the outdated and racist caricature of Black people.

The mascot has been challenged multiple times with students voting in 1994 and again in 2019 to keep the imagery. A petition to remove the chieftain has garnered over 1,700 signatures this summer.