Iron County’s school board will ask voters whether to reinstate Cedar High School’s mascot to “Redmen,” just five years after the board voted 3-2 to retire the mascot adopted in the 1940s.

Afterward, Cedar High School adopted a wolf as its mascot and “The Red” moniker, rebranding the school’s signage and uniforms.

Three members of the seven-member school board requested that a proposal to reinstate the mascot be placed on the board’s agenda. A motion to reinstate the name failed but the board voted 6-1 on Tuesday to allow voters to consider a ballot question whether to restore the historic mascot, placing the issue on the ballot to a vote “as early as legally possible,” according to the board member’s motion.

Recently, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah formally requested that the district not reinstate the Redmen name amid calls from others to restore it. The tribe’s cultural resource manager told the school board that the words redskin and redman have been historically used to degrade and dehumanize Native Americans.

Corrina Bow, Tribal Chairwoman of the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, said she is a Cedar High School alumnus.

While a student, “I wanted to fit in and be accepted by my peers in school. I accepted the Redmen mascot, the school’s interpretation of who they thought we were. Sometimes it was hurtful, and sometimes it was really funny,” Bow said.

But after her granddaughter stepped up to retire the mascot five years ago, she faced considerable pushback from the community.

“I became very fearful for her life as she received death threats from the mature elders of the Cedar City community,” Bow said. When the school board voted to retire the mascot, the tribe expressed its gratitude, she said.

Others said it was time to restore the mascot to the Redmen.

Iron County Commissioner Paul Cozzens, speaking on behalf of the commission, urged the school board “to reinstate the Redmen as the nickname of Cedar High School. Our examination of this issue reveals a process that falls short of the dignity expected in Iron County.”

Cozzens said, despite conducting three public forums, “ostensibly to listen to the community,” a review of a transcript of the then-school board’s meeting revealed “officials planning how to change the name, not whether to do so.” Cozzens said there was overwhelming support for the Redmen mascot at the forums.

Cozzens, wearing a Cedar Redmen T-shirt, noted, “While every elected body makes mistakes, they must also rectify them.”

He added, “This has never been about a mascot. For me, it’s been about fighting against the cancel culture.”

Cozzens prefaced his remarks to the board noting Iron County is the “authorizing agency of Iron County School District.”

State statute, however, explicitly states that school districts are independent of city and county governments.

In 2019, a committee of students, teachers and tribal members voted 17-7, recommending that the mascot be changed. Multiple public hearings were held prior to the school board vote to change the mascot, which some community members supported, citing tradition, while others opposed it, calling it culturally insensitive and hurtful.

Iron County School District Superintendent Lance Hatch, in a statement, said, “I acknowledge and recognize that some may have been harmed by the Redmen name over the years and we do not dismiss the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah’s request to not reinstate the name.

“However, I also acknowledge the harm that has been done to community members who feel a connection to the name.”

Although the school rebranded after the school board vote, it has not been a settled issue. A small group has occasionally addressed the board to call for a return to the “Redmen” mascot.

Board member Jeff Corry raised the issue with the board in 2021 but the board took no action. When Corry and board member Dave Staheli campaigned for election to the school board, each backed reinstatement of the Redmen mascot.

They were joined by board member Lauren Lewis in introducing the proposal to the board to consider reinstating the mascot.

With respect to putting the matter to a vote of the county electorate, Hatch said, “Our hope is that with the support of this community, we can heal this divide and move forward, working together to be respectful of one another and ensuring that our current students receive the education they deserve without interruption.”