A southwest Florida Native American advocacy leader has asked a high school and elementary school to change their mascot, saying the names and logos are discriminatory.
"The schools get no extra benefit from having these mascots except to insult, mock and disgrace Native Americans," Sal Serbin said.
Serbin, a 50-year-old Sarasota resident with Sioux lineage, made his case recently to Sarasota County School Board. He said the Venice schools' mascots, Indian and Little Indians, respectively, offend and exploit Native American culture.
"I know it's nothing they can do tomorrow, Serbin said. "Something else needs to be selected. I'd like the students to have some input in it."
Serbin says the feathered war bonnets worn by the Venice schools' mascots don't accurately reflect the regalia worn by Native Americans indigenous to Southwest Florida. Headdresses were historically worn in the Great Plains region.
Serbin believes the School Board is obligated to change the mascots based on the anti-discrimination guidelines in Sarasota County School Board Policy Manual. The document states that slurs reflecting on an individuals race, ethnicity or national origin are harassment.