On the same day that Cleveland announced their change from the “Indians” to the “Guardians”, South Bend School District also announced that they have chosen the replacement for “Indians” as their mascot in the upcoming school year. Instead of choosing a new name however, they are going to follow the example of the Washington Football Team when they removed “Redskins” from their name.
In a letter signed by the South Bend School District Board of Directors and Superintendent Jon Tienhaara, it announced that after receiving a lackluster response from the public on proposed new team names, they will simply be removing the word “Indians” from the school branding.
SHB 1356 prohibited schools from “inappropriate use of Native American names, symbols, or images as public school mascots, logos, or team names.” Earlier this year, the school district formed a committee to propose options.
In June, the district announced that their team name committee met and selected five possible names.
Ballots were sent to community members with the names; Seawolves, Riverhawks, Tsunami, Storm, Kings, and an option to write in a name. Ballots were asked to be returned by July 7, 2021.
In their recent letter, the district says that at their July meeting, the results of those ballots were reviewed. Of the feedback received, 189 Jr. Sr. High students/staff, 88 elementary students/staff, and 77 South Bend community members provided votes.
“The combined votes did not produce a clear favorite among either group.” states the district.
In response to the low community participation, consisting of only 77 returned votes out of only 1400 ballots sent out, the district called the enthusiasm from the community to change the name “underwhelming”.
“The board takes the SHB 1356 requirement seriously, and at the same time understands and hears a strong sentiment from the community that does not desire a new team name be selected at this time. Numerous community members have provided input to the contrary, and the fact that only 77 votes were returned (out of over 1400 ballots distributed) shows a current underwhelming enthusiasm among the people of our community.“
Despite a community disinterest in removing the team name, the district is still required to remove the name, whether or not a new name is chosen.
“The board acknowledges and respects its responsibility to represent the community and to make decisions based on both legal requirements and the majority will of the people, with the overall goal of providing for the best interests of students. Though we are not allowed to keep “Indians” as our team name, and, based on the feedback we have received on this issue, and the apparent lack of an overall mandate from our students and community, we do not believe we have a clear direction at this time in selecting a replacement. “
The board announced that starting in the upcoming school year, and until further notice, the school teams will be known as, “South Bend”.
The following resolution was passed by school board, reflecting the change.
School Athletic Team Name
SOUTH BEND SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 118
A Resolution of the Board of Directors setting the athletic team name of South Bend Jr. Sr. High School.
WHEREAS, the South Bend School District No. 118 (District) is a public school district in the State of Washington; and
WHEREAS, the team name for athletic teams at South Bend Jr. Sr. High School is, “Indians”; and,
WHEREAS, Substitute House Bill 1356, as passed by the 67th Washington State Legislature, and signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee, prohibits the District to use “Indians” as an athletic team name; and,
WHEREAS, no Federally recognized Indian Tribe has agreed to authorize the District to continue use of the athletic team name “Indians” as authorized in SHB 1356; and,
WHEREAS, SHB 1356 requires Washington public schools and the District to discontinue the use of “Indians” as an athletic team name before January 1, 2022;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Directors (Board) of South Bend School District No. 118 directs that “Indians” not be used as the team name for any District athletic team, club, or group, unless authorized as described in SHB 1356; and,
THEREFORE, BE IT ALSO RESOLVED that District athletic teams, clubs, or groups, will use “South Bend” as their name, other than team names as established by the athletic combines with Raymond High School, until a new team name is authorized by the Board; and,
THEREFORE, BE IT ALSO RESOLVED that this directive is implemented prior to the beginning of the 2021-22 school year.
Dated this 22nd day of July, 2021, at the regular meeting of the Board of Directors, South Bend School District No. 118.