Cowlitz Tribe asks Lewis County school district to discontinue ‘offensive’ costume and cheer

The Toledo School District will no longer use its mascot costume, nor the “Tomahawk Chop” cheer, after the Cowlitz Indian Tribe recently called both “offensive” examples of “cultural misappropriation.”

The opinion came after the district asked the tribe for an official stance on the mascot.

The Toledo School Board voted to honor the Cowlitz Indian Tribe’s request at its regular meeting on Feb. 21.

Toledo School District Superintendent Chris Rust also asked the tribe to adopt an official position on the name “Toledo Indians,” the 110 percent Dreamcatcher T logo, the district’s use of “Chief Wahoo” and the totem pole commissioned by the class of 1988 that stands in front of the high school.

The tribe approves of the continued use of the name “Toledo Indians” and the current logo, but requests consultation on any updates or changes to the logo. Rust said the tribe has no opinion on the district’s use of “Chief Wahoo” or the totem pole.

Tribe Chairman William Iyall said this is the first time the tribe has formally requested the district discontinue use of the mascot costume.

“The mascot, as I understand it, is in quite a dilapidated condition and I think the school district has been receiving criticism on that matter. So we all agreed to move forward without it.”

Rust said the costume has not been used in two years, because no one wanted to wear it. He said the costume is incredibly uncomfortable, and slightly damaged.