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High schools might be asked to reconsider mascots, rituals

PIERRE--The board of directors for the South Dakota High School Activities Association agreed Wednesday to discuss a review of school mascots and ceremonies.

PIERRE-The board of directors for the South Dakota High School Activities Association agreed Wednesday to discuss a review of school mascots and ceremonies.

The resolution came from one of the directors, Roger Bordeaux, who is the board's at-large American Indian representative.

He is superintendent of Tiopsa Zina Tribal School on the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate reservation.

Bordeaux wants the association's board to adopt a statement "encouraging its membership to consider not using any stereotypical Indian imagery and Indian mascots that cause harm."

He stressed there wouldn't be any requirement for school officials to make changes.

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"I still believe it's a local board decision to do that or not do that," Bordeaux said.

Board chairman Jason Uttermark, of Aberdeen, said the topic would be considered at the first meeting of 2016 on Jan. 13.

Uttermark said he's learned during his four years on the association's board that sometimes going slower is better than going faster.

"This is a very good discussion for us to be having," Uttermark said.

Board members didn't want to quickly act Wednesday. Instead, they gave school officials an opportunity to consider the resolution and to appear before the association board.

"We're going to look at a resolution that's pretty binding," said one of the directors, Steve Morford, the Spearfish High School principal.

Morford recalled the process that Winner took some years ago, when the Warriors name was kept but the mascot symbol was changed.

Director Linda Whitney, the superintendent for Sanborn Central School District, said more time would allow "everybody to ask questions they may have."

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Director Bud Postma, the Madison High School athletic director, said he wasn't ready to vote Wednesday.

"We just got this information on what day-Monday?" Postma said.

Wayne Carney, the association's executive director, said he received a call from a school official who wants to speak to the board but couldn't attend the meeting Wednesday.

Playing fields and uniforms might need to be changed, Carney said.

"It's a very, very good discussion to have," he said.

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