By Associated Press • 

Mohawk High School in Oregon drops Indians as name of teams

MARCOLA — Mohawk High School teams have been known as the Indians since the Oregon school was established in the late 1920s.

That's about to change.

A community survey and several town hall-style meetings prompted the district to decide to adopt a new nickname and symbol, Marcola School District Superintendent Bill Watkins told The Register-Guard.

Watkins said 52 percent of those who completed the survey wanted to drop the name Indians. Forty-eight percent wanted to keep it.

The district, located about 25 miles northeast of Eugene, hopes to choose a new mascot by next month.

The switch involves more than just picking a new name. A large image of an Indian on the floor of the school's gym will have to be removed. Watkins said that could cost as much as $20,000.

“We'll have to get all new uniforms, remove some of the symbols on the walls and in other places,” Watkins said. “We haven't come up with total cost estimates just yet.”

The issue of Native American mascots has taken several turns since the state Board of Education voted in 2012 to prohibit them, giving school districts five years to comply.

A major revision allows school districts to keep their mascots if they obtain written approval from one of Oregon's nine federally recognized Indian tribes.

Watkins said he contacted the Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde because of their affiliation with the Kalapuya Tribe, whose members settled across the Willamette Valley and surrounding areas, according to the Oregon Historical Society.

“The tribe was amazing to work with,” Watkins said. “But at my last meeting with them I could see the hesitancy. They want to support us, but they're getting a lot of grief over it.”

A tribe official was not immediately available Monday for comment to The Associated Press.

The school is named for the Mohawk River, a tributary of the McKenzie River.

The Mohawk River and the surrounding Mohawk Valley received their names in 1847, when an early settler said the valley reminded him of the Mohawk River in his home state of New York, according to the historical society.

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Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com

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