Honoring their proud tradition, the “Indians” of Shawnee Mission North have stood firm in the face of PC criticism. The latest controversy began with an online post from a visiting Lawrence High School basketball player. “I dread playing here at Shawnee Mission North,” she wrote. North’s Indian mascot and the students’ tomahawk chop left her feeling “irritated and pissed off.”
Lawrence High’s “Inter-Tribal Club” soon got involved, asking Lawrence High administrators to remove North’s Indian-themed banner from a collection of banners outside the Lawrence school gym. The banner shows the profile of a distinguished-looking Indian in headdress. No matter, the administrators promptly removed it.
Shawnee Mission North, however, did not back down. District communications director Erin Little pointed out that the Shawnee Mission area and school district were named after the Shawnee Nation tribe. In 1992, the School District received written assurance from the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma that “the tribe was proud to lend its name and support to the education of America’s youth.”
“They emphasized that the use of costumed youth as mascots was not offensive or degrading, but instead, a proud tradition that should continue,” said Little of the Shawnee tribe members. “We are not planning to change the name of our school district, or high school mascots. In fact, we are proud of our native American heritage.”