Kamiakin HS likely to retain mascot as Legacy HS prepares to re-brand

Kamiakin

KENNEWICK, Wash. — While it’s looking like Kamiakin High School will be granted the right to retain its ‘Braves’ mascot, Legacy High School will have to do away with the ‘Thunderbirds’ mascot under WA state law.

Under House Bill 1356, which was passed by the Washington State Legislature and signed into law in April 2021, the use of Native American imagery as public school mascots was banned starting in January 2022.

However, school districts are allowed to bypass this rule so long as the nearest federally-recognized tribe gives a school authorization to retain its mascot.

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According to an alert from the Kennewick School District, Kamiakin HS and KSD officials have been working with the Yakama Nation Tribal Council to establish parameters for the agreement. A representative of the tribe spoke at the KSD’s school board meeting on Wednesday, informing them that tribal leaders will likely create a memorandum of understanding (MOU).

That agreement would be implemented for one year, and would likely be re-evaluated near its conclusion. Once in effect, the memorandum of understanding would allow Kamiakin High to maintain the use of the ‘Braves’ as its school branding.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to continue to build a collaborative relationship with the Yakama Nation and we look forward to continuing the consultation process for tribal curriculum and mascot use that honors the Native American community,” the Kennewick School District said in its release on Friday.

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The Tribal Council meets again in December when KSD officials expect them to make a final decision on the matter.

Meanwhile, Legacy High School is preparing to part ways with its mascot. A representative from the Yakama Nation Tribal Council informed the school district that it doesn’t possess the authority to clear the see of the Thunderbird mascot and name since that imagery is connected to coastal tribes.

With that being the case, Legacy High School has begun its rebranding process and will seek community input through its mascot naming committee. A recommendation for the new mascot is slated to be presented that the December 8 meeting of the Kennewick School Board.

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