DRIGGS, Idaho — In a 4-1 vote late Tuesday evening, the Teton County school board agreed to retire the 90-year-old Redskins mascot name.
The vote came after months of debate and public outcry to both keep and change Teton High School's mascot. The board agreed to leave the door open to consider other symbolic Native American representations for the high school.
School board member Mary Mello made the first motion during the four-and-half-hour meeting to retire the Redskins mascot, as school board member Ben Kearsley pushed back throughout the discussion asking the board to give the decision more time for community input.
“My concern about the motion tonight is that we leave some stakeholders behind," Kearsley said. "I think we should continue the dialogue. If we need to meet in another week, then we hold another meeting in a week. Let’s make a plan for the plan.”
Tuesday's meeting brought out almost 150 members of the public to the Driggs Elementary School gym, many dressed in "Save the Redskins" T-shirts and Redskins team jerseys and uniforms. On the heels of last week’s school board meeting, in which Kearsley urged the board to take more time ahead of a decision, the board struggled Tuesday evening to come to a vote. Many in attendance stayed to very end.
“We all agree that a vote tonight would be a disservice to the valley,” said valley resident Adam Berry during the meeting. “We in the community are not in a place to compromise. The wound is too deep.”
Still others called for a decision, any decision to simply move forward.
“I do appreciate when we have a chance to dialogue and understand each other,” said Peter McKellar, another resident of the valley. “I also don’t know what more information there is to hear. I worry that if we delay, the divide will get bigger. We need to take the next step, find out the goal, and plan around that.”
School board member Jake Kunz agreed that in order for the community to move forward, the board needed to make a decision.
At one point, Board Chairman Chris Issacson stopped the meeting to talk privately with a member of the state school board association and Superintendent Monte Woolstenhulme in an attempt to regain order.
Randy’L Teton, public affairs spokeswoman for the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe who has been an active voice in the five-month debate in Teton County, said after the meeting that she was pleased to see the name retired, adding again that the word was a racial slur. She and elders of the Fort Hall Reservation have advocated for the mascot name to change since a proposal was first brought forward in 2013 by Woolstenhulme. Since then the Nez Perce Tribe in north Idaho have advocated for the change as well.