Spirit Lake school board votes 4-1 to keep Indian mascot

SPIRIT LAKE — The Spirit Lake School Board has voted to keep its longstanding Indian mascot.

Earlier this year, the Spirit Lake Tribal Council in North Dakota sent the district a letter, saying the mascot is offensive and calling for its removal. Vicky Larson is among the area residents who spoke at the board’s meeting last week. She favors keeping the Indian mascot for Spirit Lake teams.

“Most teams, they’re warriors,” she said, “so why not honor the warriors.”

Kate Mendenhall told the board indigenous people do not feel Indian mascots honor them. “A rebrand with a new mascot could…focus on this community’s bright future,” Mendenhall said.

Jeromy Mouw, the newest member of the Spirit Lake School Board member, said his vote to keep the Indian mascot is based on community feedback. “There were a couple of people that were a little bit like: ‘Um, you know I don’t know that we should keep the logo.’ But I said: ‘OK. Do you want it changed?’ and the answer was no,” Mauw said. “I didn’t get a single person who said: ‘Change the logo.’”

The board voted 4-1 to keep the Indian mascot. Greta Gruys was the board member who voted no, suggesting the board should collect more feedback before making a final decision.

“The Native American people have told us that using the Indian mascot is not an honor or a sign of respect,” Gruys said, “and they have repeatedly asked us to change it.”

In late 2021, the Mason City School Board voted to change the mascot of Mason City High School from Mohawks, eventually deciding to change it to Riverhawks.