District removes Mason City ‘Mohawks’ name as mascot debate continues

The Rev. Le Anne Clausen de Montes, a mother of four Indigenous children, has grappled with the Mason City school district’s mascot for years.

Until recently, Clausen de Montes and her children faced a common issue for Native American students in the northern Iowa community: Should they support their school and the “Mohawks” mascot? Or should they push back against a mascot they felt was insensitive for Indigenous people? 

In one instance, she says her son wanted to participate in a basketball clinic hosted by the high school, but the program was called “The Tribe” and there were arrows and feathers “all over the logo.” She said even her child in kindergarten received a T-shirt that said “the littlest Mohawk.”

“The presence of racial, ethnic stereotypes about Native Americans, the ones that are so common in the symbols that are used by a lot of high school mascots — whether it’s the feather, spears or pictures of Native Americans — all contribute to a climate that reinforces those stereotypes,” Clausen de Montes said.

Indianola's school board recently elected three members who are in favor of keeping the "Indians" as the mascot. The school board will not discuss the issue until early next year.

More:8 sports teams that reinvented their insensitive or hapless mascots

Clausen de Montes’ children won’t have to make the choice between school activities and respecting their culture anymore. On Nov. 15, the Mason City school district decided to drop the “Mohawk” mascot name. The district will begin the search for a replacement in January, and it plans to have a new mascot selected by July 1, 2022.

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