It’s been more than a year since Tulare Union High School changed its team name. For nearly a century, Tulare Union went by the Redskins. They’re now called the Tribe. But the transition is far from over. Native American activists consider the term a racial slur and you’ll still see Tulare Union gear bearing the word at games. Tulare Union’s principal says progress is being made.
As the band plays sounds of tradition, some Tulare Union Alumni wear the word “Redskins’ proudly. A word slowly fading away from their community.
“I didn’t think we were hurting anybody by being called Redskins. It was just pride in our mascot,” said Tulare Union alum Louie Limas.
Starting in the 2016-17 school year, Tulare Union changed its team name from Redskins to Tribe, abiding by the California Racial Mascots Act. But a simple name change didn’t make the controversial transition happen overnight. Principal Michelle Nunley says there simply isn’t funding to replace everything bearing the R-word.
“Uniforms for athletics, band uniforms, murals on the school, the gym floor, kind of everything in its entirety. It was coming in right at about three-quarters of a million dollars,” said Nunley.
Over the past year there’s been an influx of fresh merchandise with the new nickname and an updated fight song to get used to.
“It’s tradition. It’s a hundred years worth of tradition,” said Tulare Union alum Bob Mederos.
“And then the song used to say ‘Redskins forever,'” said Limas.
“It now says ‘for we are one tribe forever,'” said Nunley.
But you can still spot Redskins on signs, sweaters and hats.
“We still have a lot of stuff that says Redskins and we’re purchasing new stuff that says tribe,” said Nunley.
Nunley says the name change allows Tulare Union to preserve its Native American imagery and school spirit. A slight change Louie and Bob are still adapting to.
“It’s hard to hear, to hear tribe. It really is because right here man, you’re a Redskin,” said Mederos.
Nunley says as uniforms go through wear and tear, they’ll be passed down. Tulare Union will gradually replace equipment so the word “Redskins” will eventually be a thing of the past.