North Cobb’s Mascot: To Be Changed

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Capture Life Through the Lens

Neil Shah (left) gives a high five to NC mascot Kyle Ford during a break in the North Cobb-Alpharetta game Friday, August 26, 2011. Until recently, a NC student, working with the athletic department and cheerleaders, wore Native American costumes at football games. "You should respect all aspects of Native Culture," Native American student, Theresa Peterson said.

Hannah Cuthbertson, Reporter

Since its founding in 1958, a Native American wearing a feathered headdress has represented the pride of NC. The school resides on former Cherokee land, thus the reasoning behind the logo. Recently, students at NC have come forward to say that the logo and mascot incorrectly represent traditional Cherokee clothing. According to The Cherokee Museum, Cherokee Indians did not even wear headdresses. 

“The Cherokee have never worn feather headdresses except to please tourists. These long headdresses were worn by Plains Indians and were made popular through Wild West shows and Hollywood movies,” said The Cherokee Museum.

Thus proving that the NC logo comes from Hollywood stereotypes, and false history. Students in recent weeks have argued that the logo should change to appropriately respect Native history, as well as discontinue the costumes at football games.

A sophomore at NC, Madeline Shell, started a protest on Change.org to attempt to gather interest and support around the topic. The petition has gained over 1,270 signatures, and has stirred up both ideas and conversations. The students who helped create the petition also suggested becoming the North Cobb Knights. However, other students who signed the petition argue that completely changing the logo would erase Cherokee history altogether, thus having the opposite effect of honoring them, and suggest simply removing the headdress from the logo. While students recognize change is necessary, they have not yet decided the best way to go about it. 

“As natives have grown we are always pushed to the side, our rituals and our culture has been used as costumes. We only make up 2.09% of America’s population. And even though there are very little of us, our culture has been degraded by having mascots and the manufactured ‘native inspired decorations’… I used to suppress my native culture because I was bullied for years…. and the fact that you guys genuinely are concerned and care about changing this means so much, we literally just want the bare minimum. We just want to be treated like we matter,” said Theresa Peterson, a Native American student at Lincoln High School. Theresa Petersen, among other Native students, wants to feel respected, heard, and safe.

NC has stood tall for 62 years, and changing the logo, even slightly, would require a serious commitment. To make this idea of change a reality, a majority of the student body must come to an agreement, along with the teachers and staff, as it would take dedication to replace all of the logos throughout the school building. Living in a democratic world, all of NC may vote on the topic in the near future. Of course, if the logo gets changed, all of the old spirit wear would still remain. 

“I’ve spoken to athletic director Matt Williams and head cheerleading coach Rachel Mercer and they had previously decided to remove the ‘student’ dressed in Native American attire from the sidelines on Friday night football games,” Principal Moody said.

As times evolve, students have begun finding the courage to speak out on topics that concern them, and the students at North Cobb High School will continue to advocate for their peers while pushing for change.