Mason City School Board votes to change ‘Mohawk’ mascot and name; other districts called to do the same

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MASON CITY, Iowa — There’s been an ongoing effort to remove Native American symbols from Iowa school mascots, and a lot of districts are considering a name change to eliminate stereotypes.

On Monday, the Mason City School Board decided to retire its ‘Mohawk’ mascot and name.

While it’s been used for decades, one mother with indigenous children in the district is grateful that it’s changing.

“They won’t have to be surrounded like they currently are with all of these racial ethnic stereotypes and all the arrows and the feathers and the spears, and just the overuse of the terms like tribe and nation to describe sports,” Le Anne Clausen de Montes said. “They’ll know that the tribal communities have been respected, and that Native Americans are seen for who they are today.”

Mason City Community Schools will officially begin the transition process Tuesday, meaning the ‘Mohawk’ name, logos, and symbols will no longer be used at the district.

The search for a new mascot will begin in January, and the plan is to have a new one selected by the following summer.

This comes after a letter from the Meskwaki Nation last month called upon 66 schools in Iowa to retire their Native-themed mascots.

Some districts were making changes even before that. Last school year, Norwalk Schools went through a rebranding process where they changed their images but they are remaining the ‘Warriors.’

Over in Indianola, their school board has had discussions about changing their ‘Indian’ mascot name and symbols but no decisions yet. While it’s a topic the school board won’t revisit until next year, one community member remains hopeful for change.

“Most of us in Indianola are not Native Americans, and most of us are not part of a federally recognized tribe,” Nick Mahlstadt said. “I think we have to give deference to those that are.”

While the school board waits, the Indianola City Council has taken action. Last July, council members voted to remove all Native American imagery from city property, including the Indian head on the logo. For the police department, that meant removing the old logos from police cars, police badges, and patches worn on police uniforms. Overall, the removal was expected to cost around $27,000.

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