ICSD Board retains Cedar High name and mascot3 min read

By Shauna Lund, Iron County School District

The Board of Education of Iron County School District voted 4 to 3 to retain the current name and mascot for Cedar High School. Board members Jeff Corry, Stephanie Hill and Dave Staheli did not approve the motion.

The vote followed nearly an hour of public comment and an hour of passionate board discussion. Public comment included two letters from the Paiute Tribe of Utah urging the board to keep the Redmen name retired.

“Having a native mascot without the formal support of the local tribe is against the law in four states,” Tribal Chairwoman Corinna Bow read from a letter signed by tribal leaders. “Would you reinstate a racial Redmen mascot knowing it will continually be controversial and may
become grounds for a future lawsuit?”

Several students currently attending Cedar High School also shared their thoughts on why no change should be made. Students graduating this year are the first class to go through all their high school years as Reds.

“I think two voices are really important on this issue, the student voice and the tribal voice,” Campbell Allen said. “Showing respect for others is one of our values at CHS. For many, particularly our Native American classmates, the Redmen name is disrespectful and hurtful.”
Others offering public comment also supported listening to the Paiute tribe members because they would know best what honors native americans and what dishonors them.

The Redmen discussion has been ongoing for just over a month. In a meeting held March 26, after a lengthy discussion, board members voted to take the issue to the people and let them decide. Since that time, the district received from its legal counsel a clarification that the
question could not be placed on a ballot. A poll of 500 random registered voters or a public poll were offered as two possible alternatives.

Board Member Megen Ralphs, prior to making the motion to keep the current Cedar High name and mascot, said she has rewatched meetings where the matter was discussed as well as read emails and texts along with talking to her constituents.

“There are passionate people on both sides of this issue, …” Ralphs said. “There’s no win in whatever we decide … we are here for bettering our students for the future and we have got to think about that. I want to get back to spending time and resources on our student’s mental health and their facilities.”

Stephanie Hill, who represents District 4 as a board member, said she listened to those who contacted her as well. Constituents she heard from were 10-1 for reinstating the Redmen. Representing that district, she said, means she stands by her previous vote to reinstate the name and opposes keeping it as it currently is.

Board member Dave Staheli said he still wanted to hear the voice of the people through a poll and outlined how it could be conducted. However, he also acknowledged that if the poll was not binding and wouldn’t change board member’s opinions, it would be a waste of resources.
“This has to really be a countywide vote, because everybody’s a stakeholder in the county, …” Staheli said. “It is a really broad spectrum of people who have an interest in what happens in the district and I think it’s really important for us to understand that to write them off of trying to understand what they think and how they feel about this, I think it would be a tremendous mistake.”

Board President Ben Johnson and Board Member Tiffiney Christiansen urged the community to engage with and respect the county’s Native American population in other ways, including attendance at local events.


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