BOUNTIFUL, Utah — Bountiful High School will no longer be the home of the Braves and the school will change its Native American mascot after a public outcry over its use.
School principal Aaron Hogge made the announcement over YouTube on Monday.
"After the committee process and public listening sessions, I have thoroughly evaluated the impact our mascot has had on all students and community and have decided to begin the process of selecting a new mascot for Bountiful High School." said Hogge.
"To all those who have graduated from Bountiful High School as Braves, that tradition and pride will continue."
The question over whether to change the school's mascot since 1951 came out of a grassroots effort from two former Bountiful students who started an online petition and reached out to district and city officials.
Hogge added the current Class of 2021 will graduated as Braves, but the process will begin to find a culturally sensitive mascot.
"Attempts have been made over the years to become more culturally sensitive." said Hogge. "I believe leaders and students in the past have had the best of intentions to create unity, respect, honor, courage and bravery when they used the Braves mascot."
Since school mascots and colors are decided by the schools themselves, the decision on changing the mascot was left up to Hogge.
Hogge organized a committee of school administrators to listen to feedback from current and former students, parents and members of the community. The group also sought input from the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation.
After the students started their petition, Bountiful Mayor Randy Lewis pushed the issue into the public light by using the term 'Sheep Mentality' when discussing whether to change the mascot. Lewis later apologized for the statement.
The community seemed to be split about the mascot decision.
“I think it misinforms an entire class of students about what Native American culture is," said Cynthia Sharma, a Bountiful High School graduate from the Class of 2011 who has Navajo decent. “I definitely think the mascot should be changed, no doubt in my mind, I think that there needs to be more education about Native American people at Bountiful High School.”
While some were angered over the mascot, others were proud of what it represents and shared their feelings on social media.
"I'm 25% Cherokee and Bountiful Brave graduate; couldn't be prouder to be a Brave!" said Lee Bowman.
"Team names do not offend me at all," said Betty Nelson. "What offends me is people thinking we are so callous to think a team was name the Braves or the Redskins to insult our heritage."