LEBANON — It's official: the Lebanon Warrior name will remain, but any tribal imagery at Lebanon High School will be restricted to nonteam-related artwork from now on.
Under a 2012 ruling by the State Board of Education, Oregon school districts with team names, mascots or imagery related to Native Americans had until July 1, 2017, to either get rid of them or negotiate terms of acceptable use with local tribal officials.
Philomath, also the Warriors, took the negotiation route. On June 22, the Oregon State Board of Education approved a five-year agreement between the Philomath School District and the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz for the continued use of the high school's Warriors and the middle school's Braves.
The agreement includes training for staff, teachers and volunteers on tribal history and culture and on acceptable mascot uses, and includes the creation of a Native Club. Teachers are working on adding Native American lessons to the fourth grade curriculum and to social studies units for older students.
Lebanon, however, while agreeing to keep the name "Warriors," began quietly phasing out its logo of a man wearing a traditional feathered headdress. That image was often seen on sweatshirts, hallway walls, and — until May 2015 — on the center of the main gym floor.
The gym now sports two giant letters, "LW," as does the football field. School officials say that logo will be the official brand.
"Effective June 30, 2017, the LW will be our symbol throughout the school and one that other communities and schools will recognize," Principal Brad Shreve announced in a public notice on the Lebanon Community School District's Facebook page.
"The whole school is currently being transitioned to comply with the state legislative and Oregon Department of Education rulings on Native American mascots. The large sculpture of the Native American on the horse on the front of the school will remain as a piece of art, but not representing our mascot."
As of June 22, eight Oregon schools, including Philomath, had received state approval to continue with their names or mascots.
In a legislative update, Rep. Sherrie Sprenger, R-Scio, whose bill made the tribal agreements possible, said she was pleased with the agreements reached by school districts that chose that path. Some, including Philomath, are making Native Clubs available for students. At least one other is requiring inclusion of a tribal advisory member as part of its district curriculum and instruction committee.
"When I set out to visit all of the impacted schools and talk with their school boards and superintendents about the intent of this bill, this is exactly what I had in mind," she wrote.