Recently re-ignited conversations about race relations in the United States have brought new attention to efforts to eliminate Native American mascots. In Utah, pressure has been put on the Davis School District over the Bountiful High mascot “The Braves.”
“The thing about mascots is that Native Americans have been opposing these since the beginning of time," explained Sharlissa Santio. "I see a lot of people commenting, and a lot of people will say that, why you guys just bring it just now bringing it up, you know? There's something in this whole event that goes to say. And that's that is that every time the native community spoke up, we was never heard. But now we have Mallory and Michaela speaking up, and a lot of people are listening. “
Sharlisa Santio is a member of the Ute Tribe here in Utah. She recently teamed up with Mallory and Michaela Rogers to advocate for the proper representation of Native American Culture, including the elimination of Native Americans mascots.
Mallory Rogers started an online petition that calls for the Davis School District to change the Bountiful High mascot to something other than The Braves. While there are people in the community want to have this conversation, others don’t believe this is necessary.
“I feel embarrassed about the things that went on during my time there," said Rogers. "I feel embarrassed about the cultural appropriation that I participated in and the fact that I never received an education, a thorough education on Native American history and culture. I had no idea what I was doing was wrong. You know during my time there I was trying to look like a Native American.”
As an alumna of Bountiful High and of Navaho decent, Cynthia Sharma said that she did not really understand the problem at the high school or in how people treated her until she was in college.
“Nobody knew the significance behind it. So everyone did it and nobody knew. And problems that I saw personally was when I was in high school people would point to women painting murals on the walls or things like that Native American. And they would point to me and say, look at you, that's you. That's your culture, right? You're the feathers, you're that feathers that that thing represents,” said Sharma.
Despite the controversy, pressure from the public has led to conversations beginning in the district about making a change.