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DENVER (KDVR) – The Kiowa School District won a year-long push to keep its Indian mascot name and imagery after the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs approved May 19.

The district told FOX31 they had taken several steps to meet the standards set in SB21-116, which banned Native American mascots in Colorado.

Changes for Kiowa’s schools include adding Native American education classes in elementary and high school. Educators also obtained approval to use the name from the Kiowa Tribe in Oklahoma.  Educators tell FOX31 they are working with tribal members to plan a visit to school grounds.  

Statement from the Kiowa School Board

“We appreciate the recognition of our efforts to comply with SB21-116 by the CCIA.  The district is excited that as a school we have the honor of helping to preserve the history of the Kiowa Indians. Our town and district are dedicated to working with the Kiowa Tribe in the education of our students and community. We look forward to maintaining this relationship and proudly representing the Kiowa Indians.”

-Kiowa School Board Treasurer Danielle Ullom

The school district includes 279 students and covers three buildings. Two buildings include gymnasiums with mascot imagery on one floor dating back to 1953. The May 19 CCIA meeting was the last time the board meets before the mascot ban on June 1. 

Commission members also voted to include Thunderbird mascot imagery under the state’s mascot ban and discussed 11 schools that have Thunderbirds as part of their mascot. Educators at those schools will have a one-year reprieve to remove the mascot. 

Additionally, they voted to keep the Lamar School District on the removal list due to the high school’s mascot being the Savages. 

“We were recognized as savages as people who were not equal to Europeans who were coming in,” said one board member. 

CCIA has the following out of compliance list of schools on their web:

Mesa County Valley School District

  • Thunder Mountain Elementary School

Lamar School District

  • Lamar High School- Savages

Aurora Public School

  • Hinkley High School- Thunderbirds

Cherry Creek School District

  • Arrowhead Elementary- Thunderbirds
  • Thunder Ridge Middle School- Thunderbirds

Cheyenne Mountain School District

  • Cheyenne Mountain Missle School- Thunderbirds

Poudre School District

  • Johnson Elementary School- Thunderbirds

Sangre de Cristo School District

  • Sangre de Cristo Elementary School- Thunderbirds
  • Sangre de Cristo Middle School- Thunderbirds
  • Sangre de Cristo High School- Thunderbirds

Greeley-Evans School District 6

Shawsheen Elementary School- Thunderbirds