ROCKTON, Ill. (WTVO) — Two petitions are circulating online, one in favor of removing Hononegah’s Indian mascot over claims that it is “racist”, and the other in favor of keeping it, in honor of indigenous people.
Some Hononegah High School students are asking the district to get rid of the mascot, the “Indians”, as well as the popular “Princess Hononegah”, “which perpetuate racist stereotypes surrounding Native people.”
A student with the school’s Students for a Democratic Society is calling to bring an end to what she says is misrepresentation of native people in the school, with a Change.org petition, which currently has more than 900 signatures.
One day after the petition was launched, a counter petition to keep the mascot appeared, and it currently has over 4,500 signatures.
“It honors the Indian. It doesn’t disgrace them. Even the mascot honors the Indian,” said Judith Crane-Truman, who’s in favor of keeping the mascot. “They were here before we were. That’s my opinion: we should keep it.”
“I kind of see both sides,” said former student Ben Childers. “On one hand, having a Native American you label as an Indian as your mascot definitely has the potential to appropriate that culture, and that’s something that I think, in today’s day and age, are more aware of. It’s something that’ll be important to change, if not address.”
Jillrae Martin-Golden, owner of Jillrae Finely Art, says, “Rockton has such a huge history here. It’s an older town than Rockford is, and Princess Hononegah was a really big part of that. She married [Rockton founder] Stephen Mack. There’s so much history in this town.”
Michael Dugan, Hononegah School Superintendent, said if anyone has concerns or questions, they can always bring them to either the Student Council or a School Board meeting.
“Here at Hononegah, we’re proud of our history and our heritage and our traditions,” he said. “We’re focused on giving our students quality education experiences for all critical thinking, civil engagement, personal development, and we respect everyone’s opinion on how to best accomplish this goal.”
Our reporters reached out to the creators of the petition to remove the mascot for this article, but they were unavailable for comment.
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