North Wasco County School District will consider changes to both The Dalles Wahtonka High School’s name and its mascot at the school board meeting this Thursday, Sept. 12.
The board will meet at The Dalles Middle School Library at 7 p.m.
Changing the current Eagle Indian mascot is required by a state law designed to prevent exploitation of Native Americans. The board has been working with other community members over the past year to implement “trauma-informed care” in an effort to promote more unity and a more positive environment in The Dalles, and will use the lessons of what are known as the Seven Sanctuary Commitments to shape the mascot process, including:
• nonviolence, building safe environments;
• emotional intelligence, managing feelings;
• social learning, respecting ideas;
• democracy, shared decision-making;
• open communication, saying what we mean and not being mean when we say it;
• social responsibility, teamwork;
• growth and change, creating a hopeful future.
“We’re going off of ‘who does it affect the most?’ down to ‘who does it affect the least’,” said Ernie Blatz, chair of the district’s board of directors.
“For the most part, the mascot affects the students and the teachers the most. They will have to live with it.
“We will put together a group that will be discussing the mascot and figure out which way we’re going to go with it.”
A student survey is being developed, and Blatz said the process will probably incorporate earlier efforts to create a new mascot.
The school name discussion springboarded off the mascot issue, but he expects it will follow a different process, Blatz said.
“There have been issues over the years with the name — it’s confusing at times to different people, ‘The Dalles Wahtonka High School’,” he said.
“The conversation is, ‘Should we change to The Dalles High School?’ I think people are ready for change and fixing the confusion about the name.”
Both items are listed on the agenda as discussion/action items, but Blatz said any action will depend on how the discussion goes at Thursday’s meeting.
“Come in and be part of the conversation,” he invited.