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Resolution encouraging Utah schools to drop Native American mascots fails

Utah school board scraps controversial “Redmen” high school mascot
Posted at 11:07 AM, Feb 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-16 13:33:25-05

SALT LAKE CITY — A resolution that would encourage Utah's K-12 schools to consider retiring Native American mascots failed to pass the House of Representatives.

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Rep. Elizabeth Weight, D-West Valley City, said she had support from Utah's tribal leaders in House Concurrent Resolution 3.

"Native American mascots and the lack of education about them in our state are hurtful to all of our students," she told the House.

The resolution is in response to controversies surrounding the use of Native American imagery in mascots at Bountiful and Cedar City high schools.

But Rep. Weight's resolution faced some significant pushback during House floor debate on Tuesday. Rep. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding, acknowledged Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez supported HCR3, but he insisted there is no consensus among Native Americans on the issue.

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House Majority Leader Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, questioned why the University of Utah was OK to use the "Utes" mascot but not K-12 schools? Rep. Weight said the university has a specific contract with the Ute tribe, which authorized its use.

Rep. Rex Shipp, R-Cedar City, pointed to the controversy in his community when the Iron County School Board decided to retire the "Cedar City Redmen" mascot.

"You can't believe the amount of division that caused our community," he said. "Still today."

Rep. Shipp said he's hopeful newly-elected school board members in the Cedar City area will restore the mascot (the high school mascot is now the "Reds").

The resolution failed to pass on a 45-27 vote.