UPDATE: The following letter was sent to The Signal and was presented as a letter to the William S. Hart Union High School District, on behalf of the City of Santa Clarita Human Relations Roundtable. However, The Signal has subsequently learned that the letter was never sent to the Hart district.
Today (May 5), members of the City of Santa Clarita Human Relations Roundtable announced support for the removal of the race-based “Indians” mascot at Hart High School. In coming to this decision, it is important to note that HRR members support the recent statement of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians “who support the removal, retirement and replacement of race-based mascots, symbols and images and personality by schools, colleges, universities, athletic teams and organizations within its homelands of northern Los Angeles County, including the Simi, San Fernando, Santa Clarita and Antelope Valleys.”
It is important to note that tribal citizens have voiced fear for their children who may attend schools where race-based chants, symbols, makeup, costumes and/or atmosphere will impact their Native students’ self-esteem and self-worth. Thus, FTBMI supports the change of race-based Native-American mascots as a true gesture toward equality and justice that centers our children and future generations.
It is also important to note the transformational discussion taking place within the Santa Clarita Valley and across the United States that has resulted in notable sports entities, such as the Cleveland Indians and Washington Redskins, to publicly announce their intent to change and replace the names of race-based mascots to promote inclusion and tolerance. Well-known brands, such as the Walt Disney Co. and Quaker Oats, have also announced rebrands to remove images and messaging that “is based on racial stereotypes,” including rebranding the Aunt Jemima brand to Pearl Milling Co. and Walt Disney Parks redesigning its storied Jungle Cruise ride to remove negative depictions of indigenous peoples.
Given the educational mission of the William S. Hart Union High School District, we believe it is important for the district to lead in this area, as it promotes cultural awareness and celebrates SCV’s increasing diversity.
It is for these reasons the Human Relations Roundtable supports the retirement and replacement of the race-based “Indians’’ mascot at Hart High School and the promotion of educational messaging that showcases the value of Native Americans and indigenous peoples within the Santa Clarita Valley, including William S. Hart’s personal respect for Native Americans.
Jeffrey Thompson and Paul De La Cerda
Co-chairs, Human Relations Roundtable