REDWOOD CITY (KPIX 5) — A group of students at Sequoia High School in Redwood City has renewed a decades-long debate over the controversial team name for the school’s athletic programs, the Cherokees.
Many students are calling for a new name.
“Appropriating their culture for a mascot feels degrading. And they need to change it,” said sophomore Mac Brennan.
Students have gathered more than 600 signatures which they plan to present to the School Board. They hope to convince board members to vote in favor of changing the name of the school’s sports teams to the Ravens, which is the current mascot.
“In recent interviews with members of the Cherokee Nation, they’ve clearly stated that they don’t like schools using them as a mascot,” said Sequoia High student Isael Lopez.
The students argue associating the Cherokee name with the athletic program is racially insensitive and out of date.
In 2001, the school system decided to keep the Cherokee name but change their mascot to the Ravens in response to complaints from the Cherokee Nation. Today’s students leaders say that compromise merely sidestepped the issue rather than resolving it.
“The student body is made up of virtually no Native Americans whatsoever. It’s easy not to see the effects,” said sophomore Carol Digel.
The school system released a prepared statement.
“As a school district, we cannot be more proud of our students for proactively taking this issue upon themselves,” the statement read. “At Sequoia Union High School District, we are committed to always hearing our students’ points of view and taking it into consideration when making decisions.”
The students plan to make a formal presentation to the school board, which would have to formally consider and vote on the issue at a later meeting.