A century old tradition, gone with the tap of a gavel.
Effective on new year’s day 2017, no public school in California will be able to use the term Redskins as a mascot.
Four schools are impacted.
Three of those are in the San Joaquin Valley.
Tulare Union and Gustine High have already dropped their longtime mascots.
That leaves Chowchilla High as the only student body still standing, as the Redskins wrap up their final season.
They’ve been marching onto this field for a century, chalking up countless wins, fighting hundreds of battles and making generations of memories.
Old black and white photos tell the stories of teachers and students of the past.
“It brings back a lot of memories.”
Laura Rickerd is a life long Redskin, class of 1942.
She went on to drive the school bus for decades.
Back in her hay day, she was “Barn Dance Queen.”
“I remember one game at Dos Palos. We almost had a (laughs) we almost had a knock down drag out because we were enemies back then,” said Rickerd.
Now in her nineties, she’s the first of four generations of Redskins.
Her granddaughter Miranda Dill is a proud mother of two current Redskins.
“You know, I think no matter what we do or no matter what they become they’ll always have that pride,” said Dill.
She has a daughter on the volley ball team and another who’s the reigning homecoming queen.
We’re on the field as she’s crowned.
(Joey): “Well, how’s it feel?”
(Leighton): Well, last year, last redskin. I’m very proud and very happy.”
That happiness, intercepted, as critics cry foul and the state steps in as a sort of referee.
The Redskins are getting permanently benched.
Assembly Bill 30 clearly spells out why:
“Once used to describe Native Americans scalps sold for a bounty, current use of the r-world is widely recognized as a racial slur that promotes discrimination against Native Americans,” the bill reads.
It’s a debate that hit the national stage years ago, with critics targeting the NFL’s Washington Redskins.
“Give it all you got! Never quit!”
Proud Chowchilla High alum Danny Knott was on that team before making it to the Super Bowl with the Rams in ’79.
He sympathizes with the Native Americans.
“If they feel its something that’s a negative connotation to them as a culture then i think we should consider it and be very sensitive to how they feel,” Knott said.
But for generations of fans, it’s not going to be easy to let go.
The Redskins image is proudly displayed all over the campus, from a headdress on the sidelines, to baseball caps, artwork by students, and the big sign over the bleachers.
1983 alum Ron Seals, a former teacher here, is now the superintendent, and says he never saw this coming.
Banning the mascot hits him hard.
“It seems like we’re no longer living for the majority. Decisions are made on the minority. Is that right? I don’t know. It’s always been about majority rules. I’m not in their front yard telling them how to live. I wouldn’t do that. It’d be disrespectful,” said Seals.
Critics argue, mocking a Native American is disrespectful.
But it’s a topic that not one of the local tribes we reached out to had any interest in talking about.
A few blocks from campus, there’s a moving sale sign outside the Shirt Shak, inside, Redskins merchandise everywhere you look.
A machine weaves threads through one of the last Redskins letterman jackets.
“See this spins around for each color and the shirt goes on here,” said shop owner Ron Thomas.
With his print-screen machine working overtime, he’s seeing a recent 30 to 40 percent uptick in sales.
More than just his community pride, the Redskins have been his livelihood for 16 years.
“You’ve got your farewell t-shirts that are hot this season,” Thomas said.
He won’t be able to sell them after the end of the year but he’ll still make money selling the new mascot.
As a man who identifies himself as part Native American, he’s never had a problem with Redskins, doesn’t know anyone in town who does, and blames the ban on outsiders.
“Why not put it to a public vote? Why was it up to somebody that had no personal connection to this that wasn’t from this area?” said Thomas.
“It’s going to be like the white man eliminating the Native American all over again,” said Thomas.
He’ll keep producing Redskins uniforms, for now.
According to the superintendent, every image of Redskins will remain on campus, until its so worn out it has to be replaced, like a cheerleader’s old uniform, or the paint from a mascot on the gym floor.
“Until we have to sand that floor down and do maintenance to it, severe maintenance, it’s my understanding that will stay there,” said Seals.
Old photos and generations of memories will remain for longtime Chowchilla families like the Dill’s, along with a strong belief that they never meant to offend anyone.
“To me it’s never been a derogatory word or name. It’s always been a sense of pride,” said Miranda Dill.
At the end of the school year, her homecoming queen daught will graduate as a part of Chowchilla Tribe, the new mascot.
She’ll no longer be an actual Redskin, like the three generations of her family who came before.
“It was fun, lets put it that way,” said 1942 alum Laura Rickerd.
As a fitting red sky glows over this one hundred year old school, the sun sets for the Redskins.
The new mascot goes into effect for the winter sports season.