THIS or THAT: Should Sanger High keep or change our mascot?
February 14, 2023
For as long as anyone can remember, Sanger High School has maintained the name “the Apaches.”
It holds a long tradition for our school. However, the usage of the Apache as a representation of our school shouldn’t be accepted as its origin lies within Native American people not a high school campus.
Our logo and identity should revolve around the town’s history. Sanger High’s historical significance can be found in the fact that the community of Sanger is a former logging town as well as the Christmas Tree City. If our school were to reconsider its representation, it should be reflected on both the town and people who live here.
Historically, the Apache Tribe had not originated in California, but other states such as Arizona, Texas and New Mexico. In fact, a large sum of the Apache Tribe had not migrated to California until the 1950’s post WWII era.
In fact, the Native American tribes which had originated in California are the Yokuts, Miwok, Maidu among others.
A current example of the reversal of a name is Yokuts Valley (formally named Squaw Valley). Yokuts meaning “the people,” and it was changed because these tribes have a historical significance with the state and our area.
For Sanger High to represent itself by using a tribe that historically wasn’t based in California doesn’t make sense in relation to our community.
On October 11, 2007, the Lipan Apache Band of Texas had thanked Sanger High for the use of the Apache mascot, the relationship being that some of the members of the band had actually migrated in the Fresno and Sanger area. I’m not sure how many are still residing in the area and I wonder if they are still “thankful” that the school uses the Apache moniker.
A few years ago, Sanger High stopped using the logo depicting an Apache tribesman head, but the school kept the identifying name. Some people in the community argue we use the Apaches name with nods of respect and that we are strong warriors much like those of the Apache tribe. However, the more common way to refer to a school and or team is with an animal. For example, teams are called the Bears, Wolves, Eagles etc.
Using animals as mascots are less emotional because they still show strength but they aren’t representative of people. By extension, calling ourselves the Apaches denies the emotional aspect of a person and then compares the Apache to an animal.
If Sanger High were to change its name, it should instead reflect the place of origin. Could we consider the “Timbers,” “Loggers” or “The Lumberjacks.” The Apaches are not a true representation of what Sanger and Sanger High truly is.
Sanger High represents itself through the Apache name and mascot. However, with more and more high schools and colleges dropping any affiliations with Native American groups due to the supposed offensive and reinforcement of negative stereotypes, is it time for Sanger High to drop the Apache name and move onto something else? This reporter argues, no.
Not only is the Apache mascot not intended to be offensive, but I’d consider it to be more of a tribute to the tribe rather than a mocking character. An article by the Times Herald titled “Native Americans join debate over Apache mascot,” sheds light on the controversy by asking their Facebook fans about how they felt toward the Apache as Vallejo High’s mascot.
Diana K, a Vallejo High alumni and Native American wrote, “I’m a firm believer that the Apache is not offensive. It’s a tribute and has been forever. He represents solitude. Dedication. Hardworking. History. Pride and strength.”
Sanger High’s Apache mascot is meant to represent what it means to be a strong student, both academically and athletically. The Apache 4 Pillars diagrammed in the 2022-23 Sanger High School Parent and Student Handbook list the 4 pillars as respect, tolerance, responsibility, and integrity; worthwhile traits that make up strong individuals with good characters and strong morals.
Additionally, the school Apache also represents Sanger High’s sports teams.
Take the Sanger High girl’s wrestling team for example. More often than not, they’re referred as the Lady Apaches, and is meant to be a strong title for a group of strong young women that are ready to, quite literally fight, and strive to beat their competition to bring themselves and Sanger pride.
Madison Love Robinson, a senior member of the Sanger High girl’s wrestling team, doesn’t consider the team’s title as the Lady Apaches to be an issue. Robinson regards the Apache as “powerful” and that it, “shows girls and boys have courage and fight in them.”
The Lipan Apache Band of Texas has well over 400 members of the Band living in the Fresno and Sanger area according to a letter addressed to Sanger High School. Daniel Castro Romero, Jr., General Council Chairman of the Lipan Apache Band of Texas wrote in the letter that, “members of the Lipan Apache Band of Texas wish to thank the Sanger High School for its use of the Apaches mascot.” Lipan Apache Band of Texas members additionally participated in this year’s Homecoming halftime show to show their continuous support.
A school’s mascot is who they represent themselves as. Even though Sanger High School isn’t represented by an animal, president, or another figure, the Apache mascot serves as an homage to the Apache tribe. It sends a message that Sanger High School is, as the school slogan says, “Always With Pride” to represent themselves as such a strong group as the Apaches in all the best that they do.