Seneca Valley School District Students Say It Is Time To Change Mascot

Some in the Seneca Valley School District want the district to re-examine its mascot. KDKA's Royce Jones has more.

Video Transcript

- A group of students say their school's mascot has got to go.

- Royce Jones is live at Seneca Valley High School to explain why they say it's time for a change, Royce.

ROYCE JONES: Well, it's probably posted on banners around the school building, the Seneca Valley School district has been using Raider's as its mascot for about 60 years, but some students are now calling it outdated, and say it needs changed. Seneca Valley graduates, Leah Galley and Wayne Scarboro have fond memories of being a Raider.

- Boy fix something that's not broken, you know.

- Maybe it was just the name of the team, that's so, I never mattered to me much.

ROYCE JONES: But in a roughly 30 minute presentation to the district, Monday, a group of current students and staff recommended the school board retire the Raider, calling the 1961 mascot a disrespectful, misrepresentation of Native Americans, and saying the once respected name has since become a mockery.

- And we see disrespectful depictions of the Raider with little to no consultation of the Seneca people. And we see these stereotypical depictions and things like yearbooks as you see on the screen.

ROYCE JONES: Students also reference to the use of spearheads on school signage and other unofficial images, like this cartoon with jagged teeth, donning a headdress, and tribal markings.

- We have a sworn tribal affiliation here at Santa. And the group of people we represence, simply feel uncomfortable with how we represent.

ROYCE JONES: Dr. Joe Stallmann of the Seneca Nation of Indians who consulted with the group for this project, tells KDKA, the word Raider in general should not be celebrated or associated with his culture.

- It talks about people coming in and taking what they want. Razing villages, having kidnap, victims taken loot, and leaving. And that's not there ways.

ROYCE JONES: And while the use of Native American imagery remains a hot topic among sports teams and other organizations across the US. Dr. Stallman is calling for sweeping legislation to address these concerns across the board. He says that way the focus can pivot to more serious problems, like socioeconomic and health issues plaguing indigenous people. And the group who gave this presentation, hopes that the school district follows in the footsteps of those organizations who have made the change and retired their use of Native American imagery.