BOUNTIFUL, Utah — A Bountiful High School alumna wants to start a conversation about the school's mascot being changed from "Braves."
Mallory Rogers and her friend MyKala have been emailing local Davis School District board members, Bountiful High School administration and Bountiful City leaders.
“I’m an alumnus of Bountiful High School and the mascot there is the Braves, so I saw that and it made me take a step back and take stock," said Rogers as she reflected on her traditions as a student at BHS — where she says students wore face-paint and headdresses at most athletic events. “Ultimately, it’s not my place ... to speak on behalf of native people, and I’m not trying to. I’m coming from a place where I’m a Bountiful High alumnus who is becoming uncomfortable with the racial implications and ramifications of having native American imagery as a mascot.”
Aside from a handful of emails and a newly started change.org petition, the pair have been trying to get the conversation starting with the right people to make the decision.
“I got a response from the superintendent, I got a response from the president of the school board, and I got a response from the assistant principal from Bountiful High School, and all of those responses are exactly what you would expect," said Rogers.
But a response from Bountiful City Mayor Randy Lewis was unique compared to the others.
“This is the mayor. Are you an indigenous person? Are you their official spokesman? If you are not an official representative critic of the Braves ... do you have evidence that the indigenous people are offended by Bountiful High?” Rogers said, reading the email reply out loud. “This sounds a lot like sheep mentality that follows the BLM movement.”
I reached out to the mayor of Bountiful, UT about changing BHS's mascot, the Braves, and this was his response. Totally unprofessional, inappropriate, and disrespectful @sltrib @KSLcom @DavisClipper pic.twitter.com/yShgH1NVHc— Mallory is trying her Best but is Very Tired ✌ (@malloryrose17) July 6, 2020
Rogers says she was taken back by the reply and didn't respond right away. Days later, she's still processing the response.
I left it alone at this point. I cannot believe that someone in political position would respond to an email from a concerned citizen in such a disrespectful manner. It is not conducive to the conversation and is extremely disappointing. @sltrib @KSLcom @DavisClipper pic.twitter.com/RCfPIo5Gvw— Mallory is trying her Best but is Very Tired ✌ (@malloryrose17) July 6, 2020
“I was shocked at the disrespect and I felt completely written off. I thought I was bringing up a valid concern, a discussion that should be had, and I was told that I was buying into sheep mentality and I shouldn’t be so easily offended," Rogers said. “I was hurt — I felt like he was questioning my intelligence, questioning my ability to think for myself. Just hurt and disappointed.”
Mayor Lewis couldn't be reached for comment via phone or email on Monday afternoon. Bountiful City Manager Gary Hill says he is aware of Rogers' post on social media and cannot speak for individual elected officials, but spoke to FOX 13 on behalf of the City of Bountiful.
“You know, right now as a society we have a pretty unique opportunity to review names, culture, behaviors that are potentially offensive, and Bountiful’s very open to those conversations," said Hill. “I think at this point in time it’s important that everyone be open to different viewpoints.”
Rogers says she doesn't intend to finish the conversation alone but rather start it with help from those who support her. If it doesn't warrant change of the mascot, she hopes some of the cultural imitations performed by students at school events are brought into question.
“If native people get involved in the discussion and say this isn’t a problem, then it’s not a problem. But how can we have that conversation if we don’t start that discussion?” she said.
To learn more about Rogers' push for conversation regarding the Braves mascot and cultural change at Bountiful High School, her petition to Davis School District Board of Education President John Robison can be found online at change.org.
The Utah League of Native American Voters released a statement Tuesday, saying they support eliminating Native mascots from schools, including the Bountiful Braves. It can be read here: