ESTELLINE, S.D. — A school district in eastern South Dakota is phasing out its Native American mascot and athletics team name.
The Estelline School District plans to replace the "Redmen" nickname with one of six recommendations, the Watertown Public Opinion reported .
Students, alumni and patrons are currently voting on whether the new mascot name should be the Eagles, Express, Pioneers, Raptors, Red Hawks or Red Hornets. The winning name will be announced during a May 16 school ceremony.
The district has been discussing the name change for a couple of decades, according to school officials. The district has been minimizing the use of Native American imagery for several years by replacing a tangible mascot with the letter "E'' and eagle feathers.
The debate gained momentum last fall when the state High School Activities Association recommended schools phase out Native American imagery.
"We wanted to be proactive in the process and do this on our own timeline," said LeAnne Johnson, a board member. "This is the opportunity to do the right thing."
The district will, however, leave up athletic banners displaying past state titles with the Redmen name.
"The Redmen name and mascot will remain part of our history. We have had great athletic teams and good success in sports in the past," Johnson said. "We don't want to take that away from anyone."
Johnson said the district is ready to move forward and set an example for students.