Is the Sammamish High School Mascot Offensive?

Is Sammamish High School's mascot the Totems offensive to you? We ask you, Patch users, do you think the mascot should be replaced to keep in line with the State Board of Education's recommendation on Native American-themed team names?

QUESTION: Should Sammamish High School take up the state Board of Education's recommendation and change the name of its mascot, the Totems?

The Associated Press is reporting that the state Board of Education is encouraging all schools with Native American names to replace them.

The state board passed a resolution on Wednesday urging districts to stop using Native American mascots, the AP reported (linked to here via The Seattle Times):

In the past decade, about 10 schools have given up their Indian mascots. But another 50, including tribal schools, are holding fast to their nicknames as warriors, braves, redskins and red devils.

In Bellevue, the mascot of one of its high schools - Sammamish High School - is the Totems.

The State Board of Education's resolution cites the American Psychological Association's research "documenting harm to Native American children, called for the immediate retirement of all Native American mascots, symbols, images, and personalities..." (Read the rest of the resolution in the PDF attached to this article.)

While the board can't require schools to change their mascots, but it strongly encourages schools to drop the symbols, in part, to change negative perceptions of Native Americans.

Nothing has come up formally in Bellevue to change the name, as far as we know. But we'll put the question to you, Patch community. And if anyone has any background or history about the mascot, please share it here.

Should Sammamish High School take up the state Board of Education's recommendation and change the name of its mascot, the Totems? Tell us in the comments below.

Greg Johnston October 03, 2012 at 09:34 PM
Oh OK, I understand Amie. Frankly, I don't have a good answer, but I have not seen students and fans use the Confederate flag. I attended two basketball games at Juanita High last year and didn't see it. I will check with my (grown) kids though and see if they recall it. Thanks for the input Amie!
Greg Johnston October 03, 2012 at 10:12 PM
Our friend Amie Ryan of Kirkland has shared a photo that illustrates her point here, showing a poster made by Lake Washington students before a game against the Sammamish Totems some years ago. I have attached it to this story. -Greg
Jeanne Gustafson October 04, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Also, Charles Fishburn, the high school classmate I mentioned above, wrote a very interesting essay on his opinion as an American Indian who once also served as the mascot for his high school sports program--the Indians: http://patch.com/A-ywzY
Carolyn October 04, 2012 at 10:03 PM
I think having the Totem mascot is more in honor of a Native American symbol. Are there any Native American tribes that are offended by it?? Not sure why it would be offensive. It seems to me we're honoring Native American heritage by having those mascots. But I'm not Native American so that's just my opinon. And I'm more biased also since I graduated from Sammamish. :)
Kirkland parent October 07, 2012 at 05:15 PM
OMG people - stop it! Quit trying to make EVERYTHING something offensive!!!!! It is a historical fact indians lived here before caucasians arrogantly overtook everything. RELAX.


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