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Davis Journal

Reaction to BHS mascot falls on both sides

May 06, 2021 01:22PM ● By Becky Ginos

The Bountiful High Braves will become the Redhawkes starting in the 2021/2022 school year. Photo by Roger V. Tuttle

BOUNTIFUL—The unveiling of the new Bountiful High mascot as the Redhawkes last month met with mixed reactions, but most were happy to see the change.

“I’m super excited it’s changed,” said BHS junior Eleanor Christensen. “I love my school. I feel love and pride for Bountiful High and the mascot was getting in the way.”

Christensen was part of BHS students for a new mascot coalition. “It was a grass roots group. We went to speaking and prayer events,” she said. “My first response was that I love something central to our identity – a Brave and being part of that community. But listening to the feelings of Native Americans who go to the school and the pain it caused, the mascot was getting in the way of that community. We need to have a symbol that brings us all together.”

Some of her friends felt differently, she said. “They were disappointed. But we’re a community based on service and kindness. We need to rally behind the new Redhawkes mascot.”

Cynthia Sharma graduated in 2011 and is part Native American. “I was compared to the mascot because I looked Indian,” she said. “I’d hear comments I’d laugh along with like ‘do you wear a feather?’ ‘Do you like Navajo tacos?’ or ‘I’ve met Indians and had curry.’”

There are kids who are Native American that go to the school now, said Sharma. “Even if there’s one, two or three they matter and we shouldn’t be using their culture as a joke.”

Sharma said she heard arguments from Native Americans who said they weren’t offended. “It’s OK if we have different opinions, we still need to do the right thing. Everyone gets grouped together as if one person has this opinion everybody has this opinion, but that’s not the case.”

Not everyone is happy about the change though. “I went to Bountiful High 45 years ago,” said Gordon Fisher. “My kids all went to BHS. I always thought it was a compliment about being brave. I never met anyone who thought it was derogatory.”

Fisher said he didn’t play on a sports team but played in the band. “I always liked the Braves. We had a feather/logo on our uniforms.”

It seems like people always want to take offense at something, he said. “It didn’t used to be that way. What’s all the frustration about? We’ve got to tone down the rhetoric and try to respect each other more and try not to make a big deal out of things that aren’t a big deal.”

Others took to social media. “Bountiful Braves forever,” said one post. “This is a joke and so sad for an amazing history ruined by a few.”

“No matter what they change the name to, it will always be the Bountiful Braves,” read another. “I will always be a Brave.”

“Bountiful Braves,” someone else posted. “Another thing lost to this cancel culture. Isn’t a mascot something you are proud of? Something to revere? Something that the opposing team should fear? I think the young, brave Native American had all those characteristics. There was never racism associated with being a Brave.”

When Principal Aaron Hogge announced the new mascot, he said the current senior class will graduate as Braves. “We’ve committed to the students that we are the Bountiful Braves until the end of the year,” he said. “It’s been a wonderful process. Even those folks that it was not their choice to change have been respectful and supportive and I appreciate that. Our hope is to unify not push away. It’s not meant to polarize. We’re one community.”