'I'm hoping the community can embrace it': A new mascot for Mohawk High School

Mohawk High School's mascot will no longer be the Indian. The Marcola School District superintendent will issue a new mascot recommendation Wednesday night. (SBG photo)

MOHAWK, Ore. – Mohawk High School teams have been known as the Indians since the 1920s – but no more. A new mascot name is set to be announced Wednesday night.

Native American mascots for Oregon High Schools have been an issue since 2012. That’s when the state board of education voted to prohibit them and gave local districts five years to do so.

In Marcola, a special task force has been polling the community and developing ideas for a new mascot for the last several months.

“I'm hoping the community can embrace it. We have to get a new floor right now, so we need to hurry the process up,” said Bill Watkins, Marcola School District superintendent.

Watkins said he could not reveal the mascot name prior to the board meeting, but he said the new name reflects many attributes of the Indian tradition such as bravery, honesty, integrity, and perseverance.

For some residents, the idea of dropping the name has been tough to swallow.

“A lot of Native Americans get offended of what things are called around here and, obviously, we're going to need a new mascot,” said Pete Warship, a Marcola resident.

“It was whether the tribe would allow us to keep the Indian logo or not and when they said yes, that should have been the end of the issue,” said Dan Tipton, a Mohawk High School graduate.

But even with the district’s 2015 memorandum of understanding with Oregon’s Grand Ronde tribe, Watkins said keeping the Indian name would have been problematic.

“At any time the Oregon Department of Education could have terminated the agreement. So we felt it was good timing to look at a new mascot and just be grateful that we had, I believe, 95 years of pride for the Indians,” he said.

Wednesday night, Watkins said the school board "tentatively" voted their new mascot to be the Mustangs. They will hold another special board meeting on May 8 to make the final decision.

They will accept logo design submissions from the community between now and then.

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