It’s time to walk differently as Warriors

October 11, 2022

The paint they wear on their faces is not meaningless.


The headdress is a symbol of strength, the feathers meaning honor and respect.


Nothing about dressing up as Native American for a football game is respectful.

On Friday, August 27, 2022, the first Wando vs Lucy Beckham highschool football game occurred. As school tradition, seniors were to dress up as “warriors”.

In the long and twisted history of America, Native American people have witnessed their lands, their rights, their culture, stripped away from them. For them to have to see what they fought so long and hard for, flaunted in front of them for halloween costumes or a football game is not only inappropriate, but insensitive behavior.

At Wando, there is no thought before dressing up, no excuse for why we do it.

The school tradition is outdated and needs to be changed. While ignorance is not an excuse for the cruelty, when the mascot was installed, there wasn’t the same awareness about these harmful mascots that there is today. Now that students and some faculty know it’s wrong, something needs to be changed.

In the state of South Carolina, 19 schools have Native American Mascots. The National Congress of American Indians reports 1,927 schools in America still carry some sort of tribe or Native mascots.
When will they prioritize someone’s culture and identity over a football tradition?

“We’re people not mascots’ ‘ is a movement that started in 2005 and recognizes the common trend in American schools to have native mascots. This movement for equality says these schools inaccurately represent natives, and what these “mascots’ ‘ are supposed to stand for. 

At the first football game, although less than expected, several students were dressed up in some sort of “Warrior” costume including feather headbands, brown dresses cut up to mock tribal dresses, painted hand prints all up arms and legs, facepaint placed in an almost mocking way. 

At Wando, putting on an oversized brown shirt with fringe cut on it and placing painted handprints on does not represent the richness and depth of native culture; nor does it accurately represent what Wando should stand for. 

There could be many alternatives for dressing up at football games, alternatives that don’t mock another culture. Warrior is a broad term, it wouldn’t be hard to do some research.

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  • M

    Martha McKevlinOct 27, 2022 at 11:16 AM

    The following definition of “warrior” appears in The American Heritage® Dictionary:

    wôr′ē-ər, wŏr′-
    1. One who is engaged in or experienced in battle.
    2. One who is engaged aggressively or energetically in an activity, cause, or conflict.
    3. A soldier; a man engaged in warfare; specifically, one devoted to a military life; in an especially honorable sense, a brave or veteran soldier.”

    The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

    In the above definitions, there is no mention of indigenous people. As a transition away from the current mascot, alternate images of warriors could be explored, but unfortunately, most are associated with violence. However, the second definition above, “One who is engaged aggressively or energetically in an activity, cause, or conflict”, suggests that the violence can be replaced with the striving to achieve a goal. The most obvious goal in an athletic event is to win but simply competing can be the goal of many students.
    Any institutional change in mascots comes at great financial and psychological expense to the school. The financial expense is often used as an excuse to not replace the offending mascot. However, a gradual transition away from certain visual depictions is always possible as materials need to be replaced over time. With thought and planning, the offending depictions can be left behind and new symbols depicting bravery, honor, and success of young people can be embraced.

    Moving forward,
    Martha R. McKevlin, Ph.D.
    Wando HIgh School Class of ’74

  • J

    Julie DyeOct 26, 2022 at 11:12 AM

    Thank you for vocalizing the sentiment of the majority of traditional or culture-reclaiming Native Americans.