After a year of controversy over its school logo, Wasilla High School has officially adopted a new Warrior mascot which depicts Chief Wasilla in traditional Athabascan headdress.
On April 13, the student body voted on the new image with 83% approving the updated image.
An April 13 video by Principal Jason Marvel recapped the process of choosing a new logo. He noted that in 2020 controversy broke out around the nation regarding the use of mascots that represented Native Americans.
An online petition to remove the long-standing Warrior mascot was posted last July on Change.org by Wasilla resident R.J. Fontaine and garnered more than 3,000 supporters, although it is impossible to tell how many are actually from Alaska.
“There were controversies surround the Washington Redskins, the Cleveland Indians,” Marvel noted in his April 13 address. “We also had a petition by a number of Wasilla alumni to completely remove the Warrior mascot.”
He added: “The Wasilla High School administration was very clear that we were not going to remove the Warrior mascot – that we were Warrior Nation, we’re the warriors, we’ll always be the warriors.”
Updating the logo, however, was one way to address some of the concerns, Marvel observed. He said the aim was to make the school logo “more appropriate to our area.”
Marvel addressed the claim by some disgruntled alumni that the school was engaged in “cultural appropriation.”
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“The definition of that is that it is an adoption of an element or elements of one culture or identity by members of another culture or identity,” he said. “You look at the Warrior head above the gymnasium as you’re entering the gymnasium, that is a Lakota Sioux headdress. The Lakota Sioux are an indigenous tribe in South Dakota, so it doesn’t even represent our area.”
Marvel stated the goal was to adopt a logo “more specific to our area – the indigenous people, who are the Dena’ina Athabascan people.”
The new design came about through a committee of eight students. They held two meetings, one with the Knik Tribal Council who talked about the history and significance of Chief Wasilla. The committee then had a meeting this spring to consider seven proposed logos.
The final vote came down to two images – each a representation of Chief Wasilla in traditional feathered headdress.
Following the student vote, Marvel issued a statement.
“Finally, Wasilla High School is proud to honor Chief Wasilla and the Dena’ina Athabascan people, their history, and continue the long-standing tradition of being Warriors.”
In addition to the new logo, the school is also raising funds for a large statue of Chief Wasilla that will be displayed outside the school entrance.