A young woman with a beautiful blue necklace and earrings

Rick Bowmer/AP Images


Common Core: RH.6-8.1, RH.6-8.2, RH.6-8.4, WHST.6-8.4, RI.6-8.1, RI.6-8.2, RI.6-8.4, W.6-8.4, SL.6-8.1

NCSS: Culture • Time, Continuity, and Change • Individual Development and Identity • Individuals, Groups, and Institutions


Paired Text

Standing Up for Her Culture

Lemiley Lane fought to change her school’s mascot.

As a new student at Bountiful High School in Utah, Lemiley Lane was excited to attend her first pep assembly. Such rallies are meant to pump up school spirit before big games. But the tenth grader’s excitement turned to sadness and anger when a White student dressed as the school’s mascot, “The Brave Man,” ran across the stage and started dancing.

The student was wearing a plastic feather headdress as part of his costume. Lemiley, who grew up on the Navajo Nation in Arizona and had just recently moved to Bountiful, had been raised to believe that feathers are sacred.

“Headdress feathers are a symbol of bravery and honor. They’re not just something you can buy online. You earn each feather,” says Lemiley, who’s now in 12th grade. Seeing a classmate wear a feather headdress without understanding its significance upset her. “I left the auditorium and never went to another assembly,” she says.

Inspired to Act

Lemiley talked to her mom about how hard it was being one of very few Indigenous students in a school where the hallways were filled with stereotypical images of her culture.

She felt proud of her Navajo heritage. But she worried that the images at her school were examples of cultural appropriation. That’s when one culture uses aspects of another culture—such as food, clothing, or music—without understanding their true meaning or importance. 

Lemiley attended school district meetings and spoke out, explaining why the mascot was disrespectful and urging that it be replaced. “It was making a mockery, and they didn’t know that,” she says. 

“This will show other students how to change things for the better.”

Embracing Change

Last fall, Bountiful High’s principal announced that the school would change its team name and mascot. Lemiley was so happy that she cried. “We made history,” she says.

This past spring, students voted on a new mascot, effective this fall. They chose the Redhawks, after the red-tailed hawk, a bird of prey native to the area. Now there will be new uniforms, new signs, and new traditions. Images of the old mascot have been painted over or replaced. 

Lemiley can’t wait to be part of the first class to graduate with the new name next spring. “This will show other students how to change things for the better,” she says.

Interactive Quiz for this article

Click the Google Classroom button below to share the Know the News quiz with your class.

Download .PDF

Related Content

Skills Sheets (1)