SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Fans at the Kickapoo football game tonight may notice some changes made to home game traditions.
On the field, fans will not see the typical teepee tent players run out of before kick-off.
There will also no longer be a student spirit leader donning a headdress and holding a spear.
The decision to remove certain symbols and images depicting Native American history comes after many discussions between the school, students, and a leader of the Kickapoo tribe.
Although Kickapoo will still call themselves the Chiefs, specific logos and symbols are being removed.
In February, a student-led group asked the school to rethink certain traditions that could be seen as derogatory or culturally inappropriate.
A Change.org petition calling for a new mascot gathered nearly 4,000 signatures. A counter-petition to keep it garnered almost 5,000.
Kickapoo High School Principal Bill Powers says the school wants to honor the history of the Kickapoo tribe in Springfield, not disrespect it with inaccuracies.
“All along, you ask anyone who’s ever gone to Kickapoo our goal has always been – we are proud to be Chiefs. We never intentionally meant to disrespect anyone. Again, through this process, we’ve learned a lot, and we want to honor them appropriately,” says Powers.
Powers says the teepees and headdresses were specifically taken away after learning from a leader of the Kickapoo tribe that neither was used by Kickapoo in the past.
Sally Cybulski / Senior | Kickapoo High School:
“I think it would be different if we were just in general Chiefs or in general the Indians, but whenever you attach the name Kickapoo with it, I think it’s important that you should represent them. We think we should do it in the most accurate way possible,” says Sally Cybulski, a senior at Kickapoo High School.
Kickapoo High School also plans to change the name of some school events, like the back-to-school bash “How Night.”
Powers says the once “Freshman Pow Wow” will now be called the “Freshman Frenzy.”
Powers added the school wants to be fiscally responsible with its funding and will be making more changes over time.