Dear Sanford School Community,
You may have heard that last week Governor Polis signed into law SB21-116, the Native American Mascot legislation that was introduced early in the legislative session. The Bill gained support early and passed through both the Senate and House education committees as well as passing by several votes on both the Senate and House floor. Unlike the mascot initiative in the past, this Bill had several Native American Families from across Colorado testify in favor of the legislation. Much of their testimony centered around “Indians” not being used as a mascot, headdresses being sacred, bullying that had taken place to their children at school, because of Indian mascots, being disgraced by the tomahawk chop and chant, etc. Testimony was also provided against the Bill, but in the long run, it did not have the same effect or influence as the testimony in favor of the Bill.
Our School District has until June 1, 2022, to change the mascot and remove all native American images from the premises. If the school fails to comply, the state will start issuing a $25,000 fine per month until compliance is reached. This allows us to remain the Sanford Indians for the upcoming school year but since removing images embedded in the building will take some time, it is best that we begin the process early. The cost to the district will be significant. Just the cost of replacing all athletic uniforms will impact the school’s budget. The school will be applying for a grant to help offset the costs of the required changes to the building.
As much as the “Indians” is a part of our school history, it saddens me that there is now law and fines that force our hand to choose a new mascot. But it appears, it is inevitable, and the school does not have the money to pay the state $25,000 per month to remain the “Indians”. With that in mind, as the school year begins, the district will be going through a process to choose a new mascot. There will be an opportunity for both community and students to suggest new mascot options. A mascot committee will be formed to listen to all new mascot suggestions and weigh the options. Once the process is complete, the committee will make a recommendation to the Board of Education. The Board will then make the final decision. Once the new mascot is finalized, it will take some time to have a professional graphic artist design our new mascot. Design suggestions from the students and community will be used. Once there is an accepted and approved mascot image, the school will then make plans to replace the Native American images from the school building, athletic uniforms, scoreboards, and equipment. This will all take some time. Some of these items will be donated to the Sanford Museum.
As we begin this process, I hope that we remember it is not really a mascot that unites us or defines us, rather it is our sense of community in supporting our students that brings us all together and keeps our school spirit alive. Whatever is chosen as our new mascot, our school spirit and community support will no doubt continue to be strong and live up to the wonderful history of our school and community.