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Parma High School to keep controversial mascot name after support from students

PARMA, Ohio (WJW) – Parma High School’s Redmen mascot name will remain, with support from high school junior Andrew Sakeagak, a goalie on the school’s hockey team.

Sakeagak is also part Native American.

“I just feel like it really kind of represents how my culture should be represented, just because the fact that we don’t appropriate it or bring any negative context to the name,” he said.

Black Lives Matter protests and rising racial tensions prompted many professional sports teams and schools to reconsider controversial mascots.

Since the Cleveland Guardians name change last year, Ohio lawmakers encouraged all Ohio schools to retire Native American nicknames and logos.

In fact, the National Congress of American Indians reports that Ohio has the most schools with Native American mascots in the country, identifying roughly 78 of them.

Parma City Schools is included in that number.

For more than a year, the district answered demands to review a possible name change.

Superintendent Charles Smialek said, after meeting with community members and students, there was a clear consensus to keep the Redmen mascot.

“They felt that they have represented really a positive image of the American and Native American hopes and ideals and traditions, and they wanted to retain the logo,” Smialek said.

Last August, the Cuyahoga Heights School District voted unanimously to retire the district’s controversial sports team nickname. A new mascot is expected to be named this March.

While the Lake Erie Native American Council praised that decision, Parma’s decision to keep its current mascot is, they say, unacceptable.

“In representing the student body by keeping this name, they are disenfranchising students continually in their own community, and they are continuing to perpetuate a racist representation,” executive board member Jessica Vallejo said.