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Lemont School Board Unanimously Votes To Drop 'Indians' As Team Name

LEMONT, Ill. (CBS) -- The Lemont High School board unanimously approved a resolution to retire the use of "Indians" as a team name and school symbol Monday night.

In a statement, District 210 Board President Kurt Korte wrote that the "Indians" name will be discontinued for student activities and athletic teams when the 2021-22 school year begins. The school will also begin phasing out the use of the "LHS Indians" logo.

"Lemont High School students are well prepared for the next stage in their lives and are successful in the classroom, on stage, and on the playing field," Korte wrote in the statement. "These successes can be attributed to consistent community support, as well as to the Board of Education and school administrators aligning their goals to the district's mission: 'For all students to become life-long, independent learners and productive citizens in a rapidly changing world.'"

Korte continued: "The primary responsibility of the Board of Education is to ensure our students are provided with the best educational experience at Lemont High School. It is imperative for our students to learn to think critically in an environment where all individuals are treated with respect and dignity."

The nickname was still on the jerseys of the girls' softball team this year, but other teams just had "Lemont."

Before the vote came down, some parents were expressing strong feelings about the matter.

"We just happened to buy the last two T-shirts in town that have 'Indians' on it," said Mike Wilson.

Wilson made a point of buying a Lemont High School Indians T-shirt before the decision before the board meeting Monday night.

"It is a joke," Wilson said, "and it's a made-up controversy. It's a control thing."

"I don't think it's necessarily important to keep the name," said Mina Scumaci, who also opposed the name change. "I think the fact that they're trying to take it way is the bigger issue."

This was not the first time Lemont High School has faced controversy over the team name. In 2004, the school voted to move away from using "Injun" - an offensive term for Native Americans. The school has since reverted back to its original team name of the Indians.

"It's definitely a step in the right direction to examine it and think about changing the name," said Mary Smith, former chief executive officer of the Indian Health Service. "By using that kind of names and imagery, you're not treating Native Americans as - it's dehumanizing, and also, I think the other thing that it perpetuates is that Native Americans are a people of the past."

Wilson said: "We're very proud of the Indians, and I think we celebrate Indians. I think any Indian tribe would be very happy with how Indians are celebrated at Lemont High School."

The majority of people who spoke at the meeting were against changing the Indians name, but one community member called for compromise – and criticized the claim that the "Indians" name was celebratory.

"At best, in my opinion, 'Indians' is a very lazy attempt to show respect," he said.

Wilson said, "People are fed up with the woke attitude trying to control and divide us."

CBS 2's Charlie De Mar reported those at meeting who were in favor of keeping the name left, and screamed at the board, moments after vote. There were several threats to vote board out.

"All the problems in your school and you're worried about a name? Wake up people!" one woman yelled.

But the board has spoken, and will now begin the process of phasing out the name. It is not clear how or if a new name will be selected.

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