There are dozens of K-12 schools, as well as higher education institutions, across the state of Kansas that continue to be represented by mascots and logos depicting Native Americans, in spite of growing criticism that the usage of such imagery is racist and culturally insensitive.
The decision on whether to shift away from those mascots — many of which have been a school’s identifier for decades — is one that often falls to school boards, which then face difficult questions on how to best engage with their constituencies on how to move forward.
A panel for the Kansas Leadership Center, based in Wichita, will address this issue Wednesday — joined by Lawrence school board member Carole Cadue-Blackwood, who is an enrolled member of the Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas.
The other panelists are:
- Chief Ben Barnes, Shawnee Tribe
- Heather Ousley, president, Shawnee Mission USD 512 Board of Education
- Sean Crittendon, board member, Atchison USD 409 Board of Education
- Ron Rosales, board member, Wichita USD 259 Board of Education
- Jurdene Coleman, president, Manhattan-Ogden USD 383 Board of Education
- Leah Fliter, former board member, Manhattan-Ogden USD 383 Board of Education and director of governmental relations at the Kansas Association of School Boards
- Mike Sherry, Kansas Leadership Center Journal contributor
In Kansas, at least four school districts – Manhattan-Ogden, Shawnee Mission, Wichita and Atchison – have tried to address concerns about Native American mascots in the past few years in ways that are unique to their communities, according to KLC. Three ended the use of Native American mascots by schools in their districts, but Manhattan kept its mascot, deciding to usher in other changes.