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Former tribal chairman responds to calls to change sports mascots

The outside of Bountiful High School with the school's current logo on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (Photo: KSL TV)

The national discourse about statues, offensive terminology, and team mascots reaches deep. All the way down to high school sports teams, like the Bountiful High School Braves.

“Native Americans are not mascots”

But it’s not the term “Braves” that Darren Parry, former chairman of the northwestern band of the Shoshone Nation, and fellow Native Americans object to. The offense, according to Parry, is “when we take something sacred to Native Americans and because of our lack of knowledge, step all over it.”

On KSL NewsRadio’s Dave and Dujanovic, Parry responded Thursday to a petition on by 2013 Bountiful High School graduates.

In the petition, Mallory Rogers and Mykayla Rogers (no relation) described Bountiful students at games in headdresses, wearing red face paint and chanting and screaming war cries. Examples of what, at the time, “they did not realize was wrong” but now believe to be offensive, they wrote.

Since then, at least two counter-petitions popped up on the site urging the school to keep its mascot. 

“Native Americans are not mascots,” Parry said on Dave and Dujanovic. “Wearing something that’s really sacred to Native Americans, like a headdress or painting their faces red and chanting, all of those things were used as ceremony; they were sacred. I don’t think those students really understand what it means and the messages behind it. That’s what’s offensive to me.”

Communities, tribes should learn from each other

Parry does not think that there is one policy that fits every community. He says the best decisions come from including and involving the local tribal communities to have an honest and open discussion to learn from each other. He concluded by saying the University of Utah and the Ute mascot agreement is an example of doing that right.

Parry is the Democratic nominee for Utah’s 1st Congressional District seat after his opponent, Jamie Cheek, conceded Wednesday. He will face Republican Blake Moore in November. The winner will replace Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, who is retiring. 

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

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