Rep. Chad Christensen

Rep. Chad Christensen

Rep. Chad Christensen, R-Ammon, who represents Teton County, posted on his Facebook page on Tuesday that he plans on introducing a bill that would strip local school boards of their authority to change a school’s mascot, writes Teton Valley News reporter Jeannette Boner. Christensen added on his Facebook post that, “This is in response to Teton County abolishing the Redskin name. There is an agenda to destroy local heritage, so long time residents no longer have an identity and so generational traditions become extinct.”

In July 2019, the Teton School Board voted 4-1 to retire the Teton High mascot by the end of the 2020 school year. The decision was met with civil rights grievances and a robust school board election ballot that was largely split with pro-Redskin candidates and those who would honor the change.

Additionally, the Boise school board in August unanimously authorized Boise High School’s mascot to change from the “Boise Braves” to “Boise Brave." The change was “the final step in a multiyear process to move Boise High’s mascot away from a caricature of Native American culture," the school’s principal, Robb Thompson, said at the time.

In a follow up email to the Teton Valley News, Christensen said that he was encouraged to bring the bill forward by Teton County constituents. He added that the bill is, "not a sure thing yet." And while Christensen would like local governments to have the authority over local decision making, he said that changing a mascot should, "Require a vote amongst the citizenry."

Among those supporting the mascot change was the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, the original Teton Valley people. The tribes later called for all Idaho school districts to move away from mascots and imagery that disrespect Native Americans. You can read Boner's full story here at idahopress.com, or pick up today's Idaho Press; it's on the front page.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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