Local school board votes to remove 'Redskins' mascot

PORT TOWNSEND, Wash. -- Emotions ran high Monday night as the Port Townsend School Board decided to do away with a mascot that many find offense.

The issue isn't unique to Port Townsend. High schools, colleges and even an NFL team are now deciding whether to continue using Native American mascots and logos.

Despite a big show of support for a mascot that's nearly a century old, the Port Townsend School Board decided Monday night it's time to retire the Port Townsend High School Redskins.

At least 30 schools across the state have some sort of Native American mascot or logo. Last year, the state Board of Education encouraged schools to make a change.

The Port Townsend board did just that, but first its members had to face dozens of angry residents who say they're proud to be the Redskins.

"I graduated as a Port Townsend Redskin. I take great pride in that," one speaker said.

"I would give every drop of blood in my body to save that name," another supporter said.

While there were plenty of supporters present at Monday's meeting, others said it was time for a change.

"This is my home. My hereditary people lived here," one speaker said. "So today I am here, asking you as a chief to consider your vote. Take it into your heart what you are about to do."

The most emotional exchange of the night came after the unanimous vote to replace the Redskins with a new name.

"What Redskins represents to me is what this community is all about. It's all about pride and it's all about honor and it's all about the kids," one speaker said.

Over the next year, the school board will "retire the name with dignity." They plan to have a student- and community-based process to replace it.

There have been recent calls urging the Washington Redskins to change their name as well. Opponents have even launched a legal challenge intended to deny the team federal trademark protection.

But a new Associated Press-GfK poll shows that nationally, "Redskins" still enjoys widespread support. Nearly four in five Americans don't think the team should change its name, the survey found.

Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen said in February that it is "ludicrous" to think that the team is "trying to upset anybody" with its nickname.