The following is a letter I wrote to the Napa Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees, regarding the issue of my alma mater’s mascot, the Indian. I’m sharing it here, with the hope that more people affiliated with Napa High will voice their opinions on the subject, as it appears to me that the Board did not do their due diligence in seeking the community’s input on the subject.
Dear NVUSD Trustees,
I am writing to voice my displeasure with the method by which the Napa High Indians mascot issue has been handled. I was born and raised in Napa and am a proud member of the Napa High Indian family (Class of 2001).
It seems to me that such a hotly-contested topic such as this one warrants more community input and the Napa Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees has not sought such feedback. According to the NVUSD website, the “Board of Trustees is elected to represent all of the people of the school district. In making its decisions, the Board is guided by what is in the best interest of the entire district.” I believe the Board has failed to live up to this very important aspect of the job.
I also believe this failure can be rectified, starting by opening the discussion up to the community which the Board has been elected to serve, as opposed to conducting this analysis behind closed doors, disregarding the community input the Brown Act seeks to protect. However, a decision of this magnitude deserves more consideration than what an hour of open comments at a meeting can provide. I have grave concern that the Board has already made its decision and is simply “going through the motions” on April 6. I implore the Board to prove me wrong and give this issue the thoughtful consideration it deserves.
What I do not understand is why the Board has failed to enlist the help of the Mishewal-Wappo Tribal Council, who has been involved with the exact same issue at other area schools. Clearly, the Tribal Council is willing to educate interested parties on how to appropriately use the Indian mascot; they did so with Justin Siena (http://napavalleyregister.com/news/local/justin-siena-works-with-wappo-tribe-to-create-braves-mascot/article_073277a2-6326-11e0-bc97-001cc4c03286.html) so it stands to reason that they would help the NVUSD as well. In fact, Scott Gabaldon, the tribal chairman, said he was “honored” to help when Justin Siena requested assistance and sees the use of the Indian mascot “as something honorable.”
Why is this course of action not being followed for Napa High’s mascot? I find it rather ironic that the Board of Education is avoiding an opportunity to educate themselves on the use of the Indian as a mascot and would hope that they choose to do so before they dismantle 120 years of proud history within the Napa community they are supposed to serve.
Colleen LeMasters Natali
Napa High Indian, Class of 2001