A group of students have renewed an effort to change the name of Sequoia High School’s team name, the Cherokees, to the Ravens.
The group, called the Ready for Ravens Club, argues the team name Cherokee is insensitive and racially derogatory to Native Americans.
Cherokee became the team name and mascot in 1926. That’s because the school, founded in 1895, was named after the campus’ great redwood trees, which received their name from Chief Sequoyah, a Cherokee Indian scholar.
In recent decades, however, there has been a push at schools and professional sports teams to ban athletic team names, mascots and nicknames that are deemed racially derogatory or discriminatory, including those referring to Native Americans.
In 2000-2001, a similar effort to change the Sequoia High name resulted in the school board passing a resolution to change its physical mascot from a Cherokee to a Raven. However, the school retained Cherokee as the team name, even after the then-chief of the Cherokee Nation described the name as offensive.
At the time, the decision to keep the team name was to continue honoring Chief Sequoyah, while the decision to drop the mascot was to end the school’s physical representation of the Cherokee.
But the student group, Ready for Ravens, said it’s time to drop the Cherokee name entirely. The students plan to make their case today at the Sequoia Union High School District board meeting. They will present the following video, as well as results from their research that can be accessed in greater detail here.
“Since [2000-2001], many studies have been done and resolutions and laws have passed that make it the right time to revisit this, and we believe it is now time to change the team name to Ravens,” the student groups says.
The Ready for Ravens Club was formed by students in February with advisory support from school staff and parents. It held weekly meetings, conducted research and surveys, raised awareness and even produced a video report. The group gathered signatures and letters of support from over 600 students, staff and teams.
While some students want to keep the Cherokee name, preferring it over the Ravens, “many athletes are no longer proud to be called Cherokees, especially because of the controversies with the Washington and Cleveland professional sports native team names and mascots,” according to the club.
The club also met with the SHS Alumni Association, “many members of whom feel very strongly about keeping the Cherokee name,” the student group said.
The students will appear this evening at the Sequoia Union High School District Board of Trustees meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. in the Birch Conference Room of the Sanford Building at 480 James Ave.