SEMINOLE, Texas — Several students from the Seminole Independent School District are speaking out after they say they’ve been fighting to change the school’s mascot, The Indians. The district’s superintendent told EverythingLubbock.com the costume is no longer in use, but the name remains.
Trey Davis is a former Seminole ISD student and said the work started when he was in school.
“I really want to start a conversation, because in 2023 it’s not going to last forever, and I don’t want the town to be blindsided. I don’t want them to think that it’s OK to make fun of other people, to use people as a mascot,” said Davis.
He made a petition that has drawn in over 300 signatures and has reached out to the National Congress of American Indians for support.
“We shouldn’t be doing this and as a community, we should respect the Native American wishes by not using it,” said Davis.
Davis said the mascot is harmful to the Native American Community, “It’s unfair and it’s kind of stereotypical like look at all Native Americans and not just specific groups, because they’re people with jobs and interests and hobbies, not mascots.”
Sierra Cortez, a former Seminole ISD student of Comanche descent, says she faced a lot of discrimination during her time at the school due to her culture, and says the change is long overdue.
“There’s a lot of people here that don’t understand why us natives want it changed. They don’t understand the culture, they don’t understand the way of living. They don’t understand none of it. You don’t see other schools or other people really using other races or other cultures as a mascot so why use us?” said Cortez.
According to the NCAI, there are currently 785 schools across the country with “Indians” as mascots.
In a statement to Davis, the NCAI says
“It looks like some members of your community are confusing offense with harm. While offense is subjective, harm is not. Unsanctioned Native “themed” mascots cause well-documented harms to Native people, especially Native youth. Further, while individuals in your community — Native or not — have every right to an opinion on Native “themed” mascots, this issue is one of tribal sovereignty. Hundreds of Tribal Nations have consistently raised their voices in opposition to harmful unsanctioned mascots for generations.”
In 2021, 62 schools opted for a change in mascots, away from Native American culture. Davis and Cortez hope Seminole ISD can follow in those steps and retire The Indians.
“I get they’re trying to represent our history here in Seminole, Texas. But with Seminole, if they showed more appreciation rather than appropriating it, then I would kind of be OK with it. I hope it just opens somebody’s eyes and they realize that it really is offensive,” said Cortez.
EverythingLubbock.com reached out to Seminole ISD for a statement. Superintendent Kyle Lynch said the mascot costume in question has been discontinued for a while now saying,
“The Seminole Indian culture is an important component of the community of Seminole as well as our school district. The town was named Seminole after actual members of the Seminole tribe helped early settlers find water. The Seminole Indian tribe was a diverse makeup of many different groups that worked together for a common goal. As a school district, we strive to be an organization that embraces the vast diversity we have in our community with our vision: One Tribe in Pursuit of Excellence. We are proud to be Indians and we strive to honor the Seminole Indian heritage.”
In regard to the social media post: “The mascot costume included in the online petition is one that has been discontinued.”