FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KFSM) — A decision was made at Thursday (Jan. 25) night's Fayetteville Public Schools meeting in favor of no longer having any human mascots of any kind.
The decision was decided by a 4-3 vote. Woodland Junior High and Ramay Junior High have been the Cowboys and Indians since the schools opened over 50 years ago.
Ramay Junior High student Aerilynn Colvin began a petition titled "A Race is Not a Mascot: Ramay isn't racist, so let's change the mascot!" and asked her fellow students to sign it.
Christina Blackwood shared the petition on Change.org where it has received nearly 500 signatures. On the site, Blackwood included the following statement:
"Aerilynn is doing a really brave thing. She made this petition and will be asking her fellow students to sign it. She feels like the name of her school mascot is racist, derogatory, and stereotyping a whole race of people. She has native blood and she is feeling it burn. She's already getting some heavy pushback, but she is wanting to move forward."
Woodland Junior High parent Steve Nolan said he believes the change seems unnecessary.
"There's a lot of history with Cowboys and Indians and I don't think it's necessarily an issue you know there were both good and bad parts about that, but it's not like it's a huge issue to have that," said Nolan.
Brenda Austin, another Woodland parent, said changing the name could be a benefit if it promotes an inclusive environment for the students.
"Well if some of an indigenous blood or Native American Tribe believe that this is offensive to them to have one school named Cowboys and one school name Indians than I don't see the problem in changing it," said Austin.
A decision on what the new mascots will be for the junior highs has not been made.