INDIANOLA, Iowa — Parents and families in the Indianola school district weighed in on the district's name "the Indianola Indians." It's a growing trend at the professional and local sports level.
Community members packed the meeting to listen to the school board discuss the issue among themselves before letting the public speak. While most members of the board say they want to hear community feedback, they agreed to postpone any action, citing the pandemic as a higher priority.
"This is not our priority," said school board member Carolyn Langenwalter, "I'm not disagreeing that we should talk about it, but I think it's something we delay until we get through the pandemic."
Board members also cited the upcoming school board election in November as a reason to postpone any decisions.
Local 5 found more than 20 school districts in Iowa still have names or logos that incorporate Native American imagery. Including Indianola, 10 school districts still use the name Indians, six schools go by the Warriors and include Native American symbols in their logos, three schools go by either the Savages, Chiefs, or the Reds.
This year, the Norwalk Warriors are sporting new logos and imagery, removing all Native American symbols. The district released the following statement on the new change:
"During the 2020-2021 school year, the district did go through a new rebranding project and developed a new Warrior mascot and imagery to represent our activities and athletics department. The rebranding work was led by a branding committee which included students, staff, parents and local community members. The committee utilized surveys and feedback to direct the work that eventually led to a new mascot image and marks being approved by the Norwalk School Board. By May of 2021, the marks were finalized and approved by the state."
Local 5 reached out to a number of school districts with Native American names if there was any talk of changing them. The Oskaloosa Community School District did respond and said there was no talk of changing their name or logo. The district released the following statement:
"In 2013, Oskaloosa Community School District went through the process to recreate an identity centered around the rich Native American history that surrounds our community. The town of Oskaloosa is named for the Creek Princess named Ouscaloosa which means "last of the beautiful". Oskaloosa is a town in Mahaska County. Mahaska County was named after a chief in the Ioway Tribe...Chief Mahaska also known as White Cloud.
"When Oskaloosa went through the process they determined that we needed our own unique logo, which was rooted in the history of this area. Included in the new logo are significant elements which designate the Oskaloosa Indian logo as Ioway, including the porcupine roach, fingerwoven turban and bear claw necklace which are all part of the traditional dress of the Ioway people."