New House Bill could force Metro East high schools to drop age-old traditions

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GRANITE CITY, IL – Illinois State Representative Maurice West has proposed a bill that would prohibit state schools from using Native American related mascots and logos unless certain guidelines are abided by.

“We have to stop looking at it through the lens of tradition and start looking at it through the lens of respect for everyone,” said West.

If passed, House Bill 4783 could impact 52 Illinois high schools. Four of those schools are located in St. Louis Metro East: the Cahokia Comanches, Mascoutah Indians, Collinsville Kahoks, and Granite City Warriors.

The purpose of the bill is to teach children how to properly respect the heritage and culture of Native Americans. School affiliates feel that is all they’ve been doing for years.

Lenny Chambers Jr. is a Collinsville High School graduate and said all of their school traditions, including their Native American fight song and Indian mascot, have been treated with respect.

The current superintendent of the Granite City Community District Unit 9, who served as Granite City High School’s athletic director in years past, feels their school traditions have only highlighted and respected Native American culture as well.

“The Warrior, in all, do respects, is looked at as a person of integrity, honor, and strength. I have never in all my years being in the Granite City School District ever have a student or a fan be disrespectful in any aspect,” said Jim Greenwald, Superintendent of Granite City Community District.

Greenwald knows the discussion behind the use of Native American mascots and logos has been brought up in the past and is encouraging the conversation now. He feels there should not be any changes just for the sake of changing, but is completely open-minded about the situation at hand.

He knows other schools impacted will be in the same boat.

“I think we will all be in the same situation where we’re going to want to sit back, keep an open mind about the situation, but before we would have to change – I would really want to make a very professional effort at meeting with an Indian Chief,” said Greenwald.  

The bill would require schools to receive written consent from a Native American Tribe within 500 miles of the school and offer specific educational courses related to Native American culture, amongst other things. Schools that fail to meet these requirements would make the school ineligible to participate in playoffs.

A hearing will be held Wednesday, March 4 to discuss the bill in further detail.

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