Through the power of state law and a Facebook page, the Mason City School Board can review the Mohawk name and mascot.
Last month, the Mason City School Board decided to end the use of the name “Mohawks” at sporting events and on merchandise. In the long term, the school’s building signs and decor will also be removed from the name, as the district assesses the costs associated with the rebranding.
The Mason City Community School District contacted the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe on October 20, after the board of directors and community members asked if the tribe would be open to a partnership and allow the use of images. and names. The tribe responded on October 28 and called for an end to the use of the mascot and the nickname âMohawkâ.
Five days after the decision was made, Tom Stalker, a resident of Mason City, set up the âMason City Mohawk Save the Nameâ Facebook page. The page gained 100 members within an hour of its creation.
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âI was sitting at home on a Saturday night and started searching Facebook to see if anyone had set up some type of thing to register the name and couldn’t find anything. So I thought I’ll try to do it myself, âStalker said. “It got crazy with people joining the band.”
Stalker said he and others he knew were unhappy with the decision made by the Mason City School Board.
âAfter we’ve had this for almost 100 years – the Mohawk name – and figuring out in one meeting to dispose of it for future use, I think it was a rushed decision,â Stalker said.
The Facebook page garnered a follow of 2,566 members. The group ranges from former students of the Class of 1970 to current students of Mason City School. Most of the posts seem to express the group member’s school spirit and frustration with the name change.
“We just need to move away from the use of their name now that we know their wishes.”
âThat’s the question I’m asking myself. I’m not a Mohawk because I graduated from another school, but my kids are. That being said, where would it end if we let this happen? When PETA starts its animal rights business, will there be no more bulldogs, eagles, lions? Dean Porter wrote in an article. “It’s ridiculous. It’s a symbol to be respected by the teams that represent them, not tarnished. Whistle more. Go Mohawks! For my children.
“How dare these foreigners try to take away what is ours!” We are Mohawks and we will not let our pride, our culture and our history be destroyed by people who are not even from here! Grant Peterson told the group.
Todd Blodgett commented on a post, suggesting a more aggressive tactic.
âAny event that could take place will be much more effective if it takes place at the homes of school board members at 11 pm. If council members don’t come out to discuss the concerns of their constituents, then start calling them. And keep calling them, âBlodgett wrote. âThe pro-keeping name of the Mohawk camp has to see itself as the righteous cavalry – which by definition means the other side will be theâ¦ Indians. “
School board president Lorrie Lala and school board principal Cindy Garza each noted that they had not seen anyone approaching them in public or protesting outside their residences, adding that none of the other board principals had ‘had reported problems.
The Facebook page sometimes sees posts or comments in support of the name change.
âI actually joined in favor of change,â Michael Oliver said in an article. “Our baseball team is the Mustangs and I don’t see why other sports could change to show unity under that title.”
The page also saw animated opinions posted, which ultimately violated the rules posted by the group. Stalker said he and other page admins moderated as best they could and had to remove multiple people from the page.
âUnfortunately, we had to block people and remove comments,â Stalker said. “I really insisted on being respectful to the school board itself, and I spoke to Mr. (Dave) Versteeg about it, and gave him my word that if I hear from someone doing something he shouldn’t be doing, I’m going to block them or take them back I expect everyone out there to be respectful.
Group members set up a petition page on change.org for “Save the Mohawk Mascot,” which garnered 1,518 signatures on Friday. Stalker announced Wednesday that he had delivered the petition to the administration building when there were just over 1,300 signatures. Lala said on Tuesday that for the signatures to count in the petition, the signatories would have to live in the Mason City area and be vetted.
Stalker contacted Lala by email last month, asking how to get the Mohawk mascot issue reopened and put it back on the school board’s agenda.
The Iowa Department of Education House File 868: Education Appropriations contains several provisions ârelated to diversity, equity and inclusionâ. A legal requirement allows voters to put an item on the school board’s agenda for the next meeting, including concerns about the curriculum.
Mason City Schools Communications Director Sue Deike said via email that the agenda for Monday’s meeting will include a presentation from the âMason City Mohawk Save the Nameâ group, followed by questions from the board. administration.
Stalker said he had formed a committee of 10, some of whom are current teachers and former Mason City teachers, to better organize themselves for the presentation. The group has scheduled a ‘Pack the Parking Lot’ demonstration outside the administration building before the start of the December 6 meeting.
âI invite the members of our group to come. They can either sit in their car or stay outside, whatever. They should respect school board members or anyone else and are more than welcome to bring signs, âStalker said.
Stalker said the points he would present to the Mason City School Board will come from conversations he has had with members of the Native American Guardian’s Association (NAGA), a group that strives to retain logos and names Native Americans in schools.
âI live near the high school, and you see this nice addition going up and I personally think it should be called Mohawk Fieldhouse or Mohawk Swimming pool just because of the tradition and that’s what I hear from the share from a lot of alumni, too, âStalker said.
Abby covers education and entertainment for the Globe Gazette. Follow her on Twitter at @MkayAbby. Email him at [email protected]