Lane considers changing Native American mascot

By Emily Delgado, A & E Editor

As the 2019-2020 school year came to an end and administration and students looked towards the upcoming year, the discussion of possibly changing the mascot has come up. 

Around social media,  Lane students have started circulating a petition demanding that the mascot be changed because of its cultural insensitivity. 

Principal Tennison sent out a community message on June 23, in response to the circulating petitions. Tennison stated that the school will be working with the district and the LSC on selecting a new mascot. 

In recent weeks, the LSC has started to come up with a plan on how to approach this request. They have set up the Symbol Action Committee which contains 3 people who will oversee the changing of the mascot. In addition, they are planning on sending out a survey soon to alumni, students, staff, and others in the Lane community, asking their opinion on whether to keep or change the mascot. 

“If we were to change it, right now would be an adequate time due to recent events bringing many racial-related issues to light,” said Alexander Solis, Div. 174. 

At the moment, the country is going through a civil rights movement. People all over the country are protesting in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. As well as supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, many people and teenagers are bringing into light other civil rights issues. 

“I think now is a good time to change the mascot most definitely because as years go by, we start to become more educated in history” said Ann Duong, Div. 174. 

In national news right now, many sports teams with Native American imagery are considering changing their name and logo. 

The Washington Redskins announced on July 13 their decision to retire their controversial name and logo.

All around Lane, there are visible displays of the Native American culture, including murals depicting Native American culture and a statue in the Memorial Garden. 

Since the school’s inception in 1908, it has been called the ‘Lane Tech Indians’ and there have been incidents in the past where students have participated in tone-deaf performances of the mascot. 

In the 2014 I-Days, the Native American club performed barefooted and with paint streaks on their face and danced to Native American music, according to a previous story in The Warrior. The 2019 officers of the Native American club recognized that the 2014 dance was wrong and racist. They have switched to performing interpretive dancing that tries to represent Native American culture.

There are obvious depictions of Native American imagery on school merchandise. Sold at  Lane Store there are t-shirts, sweatshirts, and other merchandise with a Native American man in a headdress pictured on them. 

Friends of Lane, a parent-driven organization that runs the store, has made the decision to phase out any merchandise that has the Indian logo printed on it. 

Even with the various efforts to make strides to change the mascot, there are still people who are not fully on board with the possible change. 

Michelle Weiner, President of the Lane Tech Alumni Association (LTAA), said that the organization has not reached a consensus about whether the mascot should be changed. Weiner said a lot of the older alumni are pro-changing the mascot while younger alumni are against changing the mascot. Weiner herself said she was surprised by the divide in the LTAA. 

“I think that decision should be left to Lane’s Native American community,” Solis said. “I believe they should be the ones to decide whether it’s an offensive portrayal or a good way for the culture to be represented.” Solis said. 

 In the state of Illinois right now there is the approaching passage of the House Bill 4783  which would render Native American imagery unlawful unless the school receives the permission of a Native American tribe within 500 miles from campus and offers a course specifically about Native Americans’ contributions to society.

“We believe it will eventually pass the Illinois General Assembly and that the criteria for tribal approval will be impossible for any school to meet … and the curriculum requirements, onerous for administrations to facilitate,” Weiner said. 

The LTAA has been involved in celebrating Black History Month and Women’s History Month with Lane and has seen a high interest in it. Weiner believes that if there was a high interest in those events then there should be interest in other cultural celebrations like celebrating the Native American culture. 

The symbol of honor has been the same during the 112 years of Lane’s existence, building a tradition behind the symbol. 

“It would be breaking tradition, as the mascot has been a part of Lane for years. However, if the Native American community takes the mascot as an offense, tradition should be overlooked for the sake of respecting a culture’s desires,” Solis said. 

As years go by and students, faculty and parents have become more culturally aware of the possible danger the symbol of honor could be causing. 

“If it deals with hurting and offending people, then we must change that kind of tradition and make our school become better,” Duong said.

The possibility of changing the mascot also raises the question as to what Lane will be called after the possible change. 

Principal Tennison stated in his email to the school that the LSC will provide opportunities for community input in deciding the new mascot. 

Duong said that the new mascot should represent “something that is related to people who are strong, committed people who fight.”

Both Lane administration and the LSC are working to come to an agreed conclusion on what are the next steps regarding the school’s symbol.