Clover Park High School changes Native-related mascot to comply with state law

Clover Park School District
·3 min read

Clover Park High School has a new mascot: The Timberwolves.

The Lakewood school announced the new mascot late last week after a months-long process to comply with a new state law.

The law, passed by the state Legislature in 2021 as House Bill 1356, took effect July 25, 2021 and states that beginning Jan. 1, 2022, “public schools may not use Native American names, symbols, or images as school mascots, logos, or team names.”

The mascot selection process was led by a committee of students and staff from the school and narrowed the choices down to four options in early December.

A survey was posted to collect feedback on the options from alumni, families and other members of the public in December and reviewed by the committee before making a final decision on the Timberwolves.

“I would like to thank the students and staff who led this important process,” Principal Tim Stults said. “While this process was not easy, our committee stayed focused on identifying a school mascot that positively reflects the important values and community that is Clover Park High School. Our students were simply amazing, insightful, enthusiastic and wise throughout this process.”

As part of the state law, districts are required to consult with their local tribes regarding Native-related mascots or names.

According to the district, the Puyallup Tribe reviewed the committee’s process and recommendation and agreed that the warrior mascot “is too deeply tied to a history of harmful stereotypes to warrant a simple change of imagery.”

The Puyallup Tribe shared a statement on its website that cites research showing that Native-related mascots can be harmful to Native youth.

“The Tribe expects our school district partners to do their due diligence in researching current mascots, logos, and team names and making their best effort to address any inappropriate use of Native American names, symbols, or images prior to contacting the Puyallup Tribe for input and consultation,” the Puyallup Tribe stated on its website.

The Clover Park School District said in a news release that a new mascot image is expected to be unveiled this spring, but the school will immediately begin using the new mascot name as it replaces imagery, equipment, uniforms, signage and materials this school year.

The decision did not come without some pushback from the community and from members of the district’s school board.

At a Jan. 10 meeting, school board member David Anderson made a motion that the district hold a public forum for further discussion on the change.

Anderson said at the meeting the motion was not an attempt to circumvent the law but to allow for more voices to be heard.

“It is about reaching out to the public in yet another venue that brings the actual physical presence of the tribal members to the table and representatives that we’ve heard from in the community that would like to honor Native Americans,” Anderson said.

Other board members worried that holding a public meeting would make it seem like they’re going back to the drawing board and starting the process over.

“My concern with having a forum is that it would seemingly undo the work, in my opinion, that we’ve done up to this point,” said board president Alyssa Anderson Pearson at the board meeting.

The motion was voted down 3-2.

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