Indians in Napa?

A police presence was required at a school board meeting in Napa this month.

The Napa mascot in the floor of the offices at the Napa Unified School District.

All because of a discussion of changing the high school mascot, the Indian, which a committee of the school board has recommended.

Hundreds of people showed up for the meeting, which was held in the 650-seat district auditorium, instead of the normal conference room. “Liar!” yelled someone from the audience when a speaker talked about racism in Napa, back in the day. Board members left the stage at one point when one woman refused to abide by the time limit for speakers. There were angry protestors outside and inside.


This version of the controversy began in fall of 2015 after Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation forbidding the use of Redskin as a team name or mascot in California. Shortly after, Native American graduates of Napa High School raised the issue.

No decision was made at the most recent meeting, another is scheduled for May 9 and the internet is awash in petitions, from this high school class and that high school class, all about how proud everyone is about our history.

Really. Such a small town approach to things.

How does a particular name really have to do with pride in a football game? The Indians, or Native Americans, from the Napa area, the Wappo… were all killed off or absorbed. By 1910 there remained less than 100.

My siblings and I attended Ridgeview Junior High School in Napa, where, as my brother Danny reminded us recently, the “mascot was the Rebel, wearing a confederate cap and a flag in the background.” Although Ridgeview closed down years ago, “some things just need to be changed.”

The Stanford University sports program and pride seems to have managed just fine since they got ride of their Indian mascot in 1970.

Am sure Napa will do fine with a new mascot, if it can get over its serious case of self-importance.




About Karen Ray

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