Change Seminole High School’s Mascot

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For years, Seminole High School students and staff have been sporting Native American headdresses at football games and other school events. The mascot of this Sanford, Florida high school is a Seminole man. Being a former student at Seminole High School, I have experienced this firsthand. I have not once learned about the Seminole tribe during my 4 years at Seminole High School, yet almost every building is given a name like “Tomahawk” or “Tribe Hall” and a headdress made of cheap plastic feathers and face paint is commonplace. 

The use of the Native American people as mascots is harmful, and is seen as disrespectful by actual Natives. According to the National Congress of American Indians, which is “one of the nation’s oldest, largest, and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native advocacy organizations,” they have “held a clear position against derogatory and harmful stereotypes of Native people—including sports mascots—in media and popular culture.” To the staff at Seminole High School, you can not disregard the disrespect and concern Native people feel over these caricatures. Using a group of people as a mascot is inherently problematic; no other race of people would be seen as an acceptable mascot, as it is incredibly disrespectful. These caricatures are not “honoring” Natives, they are “perpetuating
negative stereotypes” and “contributing to a disregard for the personhood of Native peoples.” (NCAI)

It is ironic that a school that prides itself on its diverse student population is represented by a mascot that is exemplary of cultural appropriation. While you cannot erase your past, please consider, going forward, utilizing a representative that is progressive, inclusive, and respectful of all.