‘It’s not an attempt to erase our history’: SPS board invites community to weigh in on new mascot

SPOKANE, Wash. — The Spokane Public Schools board is getting ready for a community forum where you can weigh in on North Central’s new mascot. The public meeting comes just a day after Governor Inslee passed a new law banning Native American symbols in public schools.

“Why does a 17-year-old junior in high school have to be doing this work?” said Ivy Pete, junior at North Central High School.

It’s a question Pete asks herself often.

“We’re just at the point where if nobody else is going to do it, those who have the voice need to step up and say something,” said Pete.

The 17-year-old Native American junior at North Central has been at the forefront of a movement that’s been going on for decades.

“We know that communities don’t always represent student lives. We know that my experience as an urban Indian is not the same as one on the reservation,” Pete said.

It’s why she helped write House Bill 1356, banning Native American symbols in public schools. On Monday, that bill was officially signed.

Under the measure, school districts have some time to phase out their mascot, team name, or logo, but they have to make a decision by December 31.

“This doesn’t mean an end to all Indian mascots. It means we need to start having more conversations and recognizing all of the implications of working with our indigenous people,” said Pete.

That’s why part of the bill allows tribes to work with schools to keep their mascots of they choose to.

“We’re in a unique situation in that we have a community namesake that the entire area of Moses Lake is named after Chief Moses,” said Dr. Joshua Meek, Superintendent with the Moses Lake School District.

His district has the Moses Lake High School Chiefs, Frontier Middle School Warriors, and Chief Moses Middle School Braves. Meek met with the members of the Colville tribe last week to discuss what would be the best solution for their schools moving forward.

“We want to make sure that everything that we do is with respect that is built on a relationship,” he said.

A relationship Pete is determined to help mend.

“It’s not an attempt to erase our history. It’s an attempt to preserve what we’ve done and move forward in a way that’s even better,” said Pete.

RELATED: Gov. Jay Inslee signs ban on Native American school mascots