The Vallejo High mascot debate has been around for decades, but attention was brought again to the subject when school board President Hazel Wilson asked Principal Clarence Isadore to report on the status of changing the mascot.
A formal request to have the mascot placed on a November School Boards agenda was made by Antonio Gonzalez of the American Indian Movement (West). Kathi Hill of the (Vallejo) NAACP, announced publicly that the organization supports Sacred Site Protection & Rights of Indigenous Tribes (SSP&RIT) in its fight to have the mascot removed.
“If we want to honor native people, put them in our history books,” said Kathi Hill of the local chapter of the NAACP. “Put them up in our classrooms, but don’t sit there and use them as a rallying cry for fun and games.”
SSP&RIT is an organization of Indigenous and Earth Peoples dedicated to preserving traditional Native American cultural and spiritual freedom. Members are concerned about the continued use of Vallejo High School mascot (Apache) and the use of Indians as symbols and mascots is incongruous with promoting respect for inclusiveness and diversity.
Isadore had said he was beginning to research the issue, and the mascot was not on Wednesday’s light meeting agenda. During the meeting, indigenous rights groups played drums outside the meeting and whose members spoke at length as to why the mascot should be retired.
“This county is named after Chief Solano of the Patwin Nation,” said Vallejo resident Jesse Johnson. “We have indigenous names all across the streets of Vallejo. That’s honoring indigenous people. Mascots are not honoring us. I am not a mascot, and I am not dead.”
Now that the Vallejo Unified School District has unanimously voted to drop the school’s mascot, the board will now have to meet to decide on a new mascot for the school.
Former Vallejo High Athletic Director Jack Renfro still defends the mascot.
“I look at it a different way,” said Renfro. “I look at the mascot as we’re honoring the Apache. We feel pride in being Apache.”