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Meeting in Cedar City for Conversation on Controversial Possible High School Name Change

CEDAR CITY, Utah – A meeting held inside Cedar City High School Saturday morning wasn’t the busiest meeting in school history.

However, it was about something that just might be among the most controversial topics in school history.

“We would rather educate than eradicate,” said Archie D. FoolBear.

FoolBear is a member of the Native American Guardians Association.

It’s a group based in North Dakota.

Members of the group held the meeting after hearing Cedar City High School might drop its Redmen nickname because some are offended by it.

“The Redmen is not a slang or slur or anything like that,” said FoolBear.

FoolBear, who is a Native American with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe,

has no problem with the Redmen name.

Instead, his group says they’re opposed to mascots, or cartoonish looking logos, that would be disrespectful to Natives.

“If you run around with the head dress on and do the ‘woo woo woo,’ guess what, I’m going to come looking for you,” said FoolBear.

It’s important to note Cedar City High School doesn’t have an actual mascot as in someone who dresses up like a Native American at games and school functions.

Redmen is a logo and a name, but the issue has divided the community.

“No. My mind wasn’t made up,” said Janalee Benson, who says she came to the meeting because she has heard so many opinions on both sides of the issue.

Benson lives in Cedar City and wanted to hear a Native American perspective on the issue.

Afterwards, her mind was basically made up.

“I don’t think you name your school nickname after somebody you want to make fun of,” she said. “What better mascot or image or symbol than the Redmen? It invokes so much pride and honor and respect.”

That’s exactly the image FoolBear feels shouldn’t be erased.

“To me, it’s an association to an identity and we need to keep our identities,” said FoolBear. “We’re opposed to mascots. We don’t want to see mascots, but if you have a name and an image, you’re promoting the local people.”

The Native American Guardians Association often travels across the country doing presentations for schools considering similar name changes.

However, the group doesn’t speak for all Native American tribes.

The local Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah didn’t ask to change the mascot, but they supported at least talking about the issue.

The Iron County School District Board has the final say and is expected to make a decision at their next meeting on Tuesday, February 5th.

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