design: Jaylen Lewis
permission to print photos: Sorina Larsen and Tannor Lambert
Changing for the Better
For decades, “pioneer pride” has been the school’s motto with each sports team and program proudly displaying the mascot Pioneer Pete and theming much of the school around him. To many, a pioneer mascot is harmless, but also many people may be ignorant of those that the mascot can offend.
In recent years, mascots have become a more significant issue due to the progression of activism against racism. Though Pioneer Pete is not racist, he can be culturally insensitive, along with the other mascots of Olentangy such as the Olentangy Braves and the Liberty Patriots.
Olentangy High School has already made advancements in changing their mascot “the Braves” to make it more appropriate for Native American communities, but Orange and Liberty aren’t held to any of these expectations when they may be offensive to Native Americans as well.
According to the Smithsonian American Art Museum, manifest destiny is when pioneers moved west because they believed it was a God-given right. The pioneers believed that Native Americans were not using the land to its full potential, so they justified stealing Native American’s land, killing many along the way.
In addition to this, patriot Andrew Jackson issued the Indian Removal Act of 1830 which forced them onto The Trail of Tears. This forced Native Americans from their homeland to Oklahoma, killing thousands. This was the beginning of an era that almost ended as a genocide.
The Pioneers and the Patriots have done many things in the past that have negatively impacted Native American culture, and though the past can’t be changed, it still should be acknowledged so that it can be prevented in the future.
The Pioneer mascot doesn’t necessarily need to change, but it should be subjected to review by the community that it offends. Orange needs to work better to include all cultures’ feelings and thoughts when it comes to a mascot because a mascot represents a school.
So far, no conferences have been held regarding the mascots of Orange and Liberty. This needs to change because these schools have gone too long without acknowledging who they are offending.
In addition to reviewing the mascot, more education opportunities should be put in place for students. All throughout school teachings, students were taught Native American relations with pioneers were different than how they actually are, and the school needs to offer more opportunities to expose the truth.
Schools could offer assemblies, websites, and other resources to help better educate the student body and staff. By doing this, everyone can become more aware of what is appropriate and help create a safer environment for those that are facing discrimination.
In elementary school, kids have pioneer day to learn all about what living life as a pioneer was like, but there is no day to honor Native Americans. It is important that the schools teach all parts of history and not just the ones that look pretty.
Many schools with pioneer mascots have already started to change, like the University of Denver, according to The Denver Post. Now is the best time to rethink these types of decisions after overcoming and continuing to end racial disparities over the past year.
The most important reason for changing the mascot is to make things right for all. This goes so much bigger than just a mascot, and it should be the goal of everyone to embrace everyone’s culture and appreciate it rather than mock it through a mascot.
It is unfair that certain cultures and races are appreciated in a school while others are completely pushed aside. Olentangy is one community and everyone needs to work together to make it fair for all.
It is true that the past can’t be changed, but the future can. Changing the mascot is a start to a new beginning of appreciating the cultures of all and becoming more sensitive to those that may be offended.
We can’t change the past
Although Olentangy Local Schools’ high school mascots, including the Patriots and the Pioneers, depict figures that may offend people, those two mascots should not be changed. However, the Braves mascot came under fire over the summer on social media, and a swift change should occur with that one because of its offensive nature.
Most of history is ugly and not good. So many bad decisions and unethical events have occurred throughout history. For example Robert E. Lee was one of the greatest military minds of his time, a West Point graduate and a strong leader but even he ended up on the wrong side of history. But citizens cannot control history. What happened in the past happened, and it is a citizen’s job to become better and learn from the mistakes of those who came before. Erasing history will only let it occur again.
People must also consider that although changing these, perhaps, derogatory mascots seems like a normal idea today, it would have been so very radical 100 years ago. Morals also change with time; society decides what is acceptable and what isn’t. Radical ideas in the 1840s and 1850s led to both the emancipation of slaves, the secession of the Confederate states of America and eventually to the American Civil War. Today, owning slaves would be a radical idea in America.
In 1840 it was common in the South; the more radical idea would be the freeing of those slaves.
The founding fathers of the United States are considered to be one of the greatest generations to have ever lived, but they still had their faults. They made many advancements including creating a constitutional form of representative democracy that still stands today, starting the American revolution and winning the war and eventually overseeing the birth of a new nation, and they are remembered for those things. However, they were far from perfect.
The country wouldn’t have had westward expansion, if it wasn’t for the pioneers and patriots of the past. However, those who led it the initiative were not perfect. Their imperfections shouldn’t mean that their memory is eradicated from history though.
Olentangy Liberty High School was named the Patriots shortly after Sept. 11, 2001. Its name
honors America, for what the country stands for and the patriotism that encompasses that. Moreover, the New England Patriots are a team in the National Football League, and people don’t have any problems with that mascot.
The pioneer is not a very common mascot. But it is an interesting and unique one. The pioneers of America are all different types of people. The Orange Pioneer is more of a frontiersman, but the definition of pioneer could be much more than that. Examples of Pioneers include Lewis and Clark, along with Brigham Young a Mormon pioneer who along with others headed west to establish a safe haven for practitioners of their religion. There are still Pioneers today. It is not a term meant to upset or target any specific people. Malone University still has the Pioneer as its mascot, and it doesn’t look like that is going to change.
Changing the Pioneer and the Patriot mascots doesn’t make too much sense. But, if enough people agree that it is time to change the Braves, then it’s time to change it. Traditions don’t always have to be good, and sometimes tradition needs to change. To reiterate, there is nothing that citizens can do to change what has happened in the past, but it is the job of the current citizens to learn from those that came before. It is their job to make sure that the bad parts do not repeat themselves. Some change is needed, but changing the district’s mascots is not where the district should spend its time and resources during a time like this.