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Wichita Public Schools Drops 'Redskins' Name From North High

Nadya Faulx

Wichita North High School will no longer be the Redskins.

The school board voted 6-0 Monday night to drop the controversial mascot at the recommendation of a committee formed last summer.

Board member Stan Reeser said that although the name was well-intentioned when the school was founded in 1929, "it’s clearly become a slang term with racial overtones and derogatory meaning."

The school will now be referred to simply as Wichita North High School. Its logo — a shield, drum and feather — will remain the same.

The mascot committee, led by the district's executive director of public affairs and special projects Terrell Davis, presented a total of four recommendations:

  • To discontinue the use of the name
  • Remove it from sports apparel and facilities over the next two years, with the exception of old trophies and statues
  • Follow the district’s policy that a school’s principal is responsible for ensuring a school's theme is not culturally insensitive
  • Implement ninth-grade curriculum highlighting the history of North High and its Native American influence

The committee didn't recommend creating a new mascot.
Board member Ernestine Krehbiel said Wichita and the nation are in a time when "we are … becoming more sensitive to other people and how they feel about words."

"For whatever reason it is a time in which all different groups are beginning to be — we would hope — be honored and not disparaged," she said. "And I think that we can be a leader in that."

The Washington football team dropped "Redskins" from its name last summer, and earlier this year the Shawnee Mission School District in northeast Kansas changed four names of school mascots it said were offensive.

This was not the first time the Wichita school district has proposed possibly changing the North High mascot: A committee was formed to take public feedback on the issue in the late 1990s, and the question came up again in 2013. But each time, the conversation stalled, and the name remained.

"We cannot speak for previous boards on why this is now coming up at this particular moment," Reeser said. "But I do think we spoke a lot about history tonight.

"We have a wonderful opportunity to correct a past wrong."

Nadya Faulx is KMUW's Digital News Editor and Reporter, which means she splits her time between working on-air and working online, managing news on KMUW.org, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. She joined KMUW in 2015 after working for a newspaper in western North Dakota. Before that she was a diversity intern at NPR in Washington, D.C.