Discussions about Native American mascots have reignited in recent months, including at Chicago’s Lane Tech College Prep.
A online petition created last month calls for the school’s mascot — a Native American man wearing a feathered headdress — to be removed. The petition has received more than 2,200 signatures.
Derrick David, a Lane Tech freshman who is also Native America, says he doesn’t even think there should be a debate.
“It’s one of the main contributors in my people not being recognized in mainstream media is the fact that mascots… Native American mascots, are so prominent in culture today,” he said.
However, not everyone agrees.
Many alumni, including Patrick Boomer who graduated from Lane Tech in 1982, don’t want to see a piece of the past taken away.
“I understand in today’s world how things may seen offensive, but I don’t believe there’s anything offensive about the name, and I think it’s a good name, and I think it should stay,” he said.
In a statement, the American Indian Center said it “firmly stands against the use of racial imagery, specifically that of American Indian logos and mascots.”
That sentiment was echoed by David Morales, a teacher in Chicago Public Schools’ American Indian Education Program.
“When I moved here from Arizona and I told everyone that I was Native American, they expected me to look like the mascot that is in the Lane Tech garden,” he said.
Others, like 1975 graduate Jim Domoraczki, see the statue as a source of motivation.
“The statue is shooting at the stars,” he said. “Obviously we know you can’t hit a star with an arrow, but you get inspired and motivated that nothing is out of your reach.”
The Lane Tech school council circulated a survey among students and alumni and is also accepting opinions via email. The school council will hear additional public comment on a Zoom meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday before voting on the issue.