By Marianne Mueller


Two petitions have been launched; one to remove the Indian Mascot; the other to keep it. The first was released by Students for a Democratic Society at Hononegah High School under the heading of “People, Not Mascots.” Listed on the petition are the words, “Bring an end to the misrepresentation of Native American peoples in our school.” To date this petition has 2,295 names on it.

The second petition was started by Caleb Hudson and currently has 13,098 signatures showing enormous support to keep the Indian. On the petition Hudson wrote, “The Indian is not a misrepresentation of their people and their culture. It’s more of homage to the colorful history of this town we live in and deserves to be kept that way. Any other interpretation of the Indian Mascot is misconceived.”

On Wednesday, Jan. 15 the Hononegah Board of Education listened to those who spoke during the Public Comment portions of the meeting.

“We never expected to receive the support we have through the petition,” said KayLee Moore, one of the student leaders of the Students for a Democratic Society. We are fully ready to do what has to be done including looking into the cost of doing this and feel it is worth pursuing.

“We stand with Native American tribes especially those who live in extreme poverty. We have compassion for them. We have evolved since the 1920’s and are in a new decade. The time for progress is now.”

Moore used the University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana as an example of a college who has successfully removed their mascot.

“There has been an underlying push across the nation to remove Native American mascots from schools,” said HHS student Sam Praneis. “It is a question of if or when. Pranies spoke about a part in Edson Carr’s History of Rockton and referred to it being race based.

HHS Senior Molly Fraser spoke in support of SDS and their starting of the petition. “Our mascot and Princess Hononegah provokes racism. History reinforces that Hononegah was of Winnebago and Pottawatomi descent. Our community should not claim to honor the history of our town.”

Student Olivia Smith said that the mascot is “troubling and is much too insulting of Native Americans. It establishes and unwelcome stereotype.” One thing we like to emulate is kindness, and we don’t believe this mascot is promoting these ideals,” said Smith.

“I have always found our mascot to be problematic,” said another HHS senior. She talked about the Washington Redskins and the fact that they had a lot of controversy surrounding their mascot. “This all started with a real part of a letter from a tribe stating that they found this name to be very offensive. It was said that the name was correlated to a period where Indians were killed and were unsafe as a Redskin.”

“I am still proud to be a Hononegah Indian,” said Luke Bufalo, a 1996 graduate. Bufalo pointed to his hooded sweatshirt pointing out, “As you can see I am still wearing this.” Before continuing, Bufalo made a public apology to a student and her family for some of the comments he had made on Facebook. The definition of a mascot is, “A person or things to bring luck to sporting events. It is a group of people that come together.” Bufalo pointed to a board full of Indian images that is used for a photo background. “When I see this image, it is the perfect image of the Hononegah Indian.”

“As Redskins was used as a racial slur, the Indian was not. I pretty much believe that history. I don’t know what SDS stands for but I understand it has to do with revolutionary activism. This building right here isn’t politics, it is a school,” Bufalo said.

“I went to this school and when I learned they were considering removing the Indian I felt I need to ask that the Board of Education doesn’t back down to or cave in to this movement,” said Alumni JoAnn Beaver. She added, “I also went to the University of Illinois. We were always very proud of Chief Illanek when I attended there. I have a niece who is an All American Indian. Where she lives they have a book that is full of a list of names in it. If your name appears you can get free dental or medical care for life.”

“Up in the Chippewa Nation, Ho Chunk Casino is very impressive. There are a lot of fancy lights and it resides in a very expensive little town. Before the casino was built, the Tribal Council accepted money that taxpayers had given them.

“The Tribal Council told residents that they would help them to renovate their town from money made at the casino. Many of us go up there and quite frankly waste our money, and they never did a thing to help the neighbors to improve.”

Beaver added, “If you go to the Green Street Museum, there is a picture of the great granddaughter of Hononegah who has no problem with honoring her memory in this way. She as a family person should have more right than any other person to speak on this matter. I am very proud to be called a Hononegah Indian,” concluded Beaver.

“I see a movement; I want to see us,” said student Gracie Watkins. “I really want to see this change happen and to represent that we have made change. I am so excited for everyone to come see the movement; I am so excited for us. “

“I have two daughters at this school,” said parent Ben Hopkins. “I have heard a lot about the mascot and what is going on. Where does the school board plan to go from here?” Hopkins asked. BOE President Dave Kurlinkus responded, “The board will study the matter further to have more information to make a better decision moving forward.”

“Macktown Living History for years has invited all grade school kids on field trips. It seems the only ones who never come are the Roscoe, Rockton kids,” said Beaver. “Hopefully people who don’t know what the history is will find out.”

Beaver asked if there is currently a Republican Club at the school. An answer was given that the Young Americans are not currently active and have no sponsor.

No action was taken on this issue by the school board.


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