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Weir High parents, students protest to KEEP cartoon “Indian” mascot; local Native Americans say it’s racist


Weir High's principal decided to remove the 'red rider' design last week but some in the community don't want it to go

WEIRTON, W.Va. (WTRF) — A mascot removal has some Weirton parents, students and community members furious – So much so, they are taking to the Weirton Community Center in protest Monday evening in hopes of changing the principal’s mind.  

It’s the ‘red rider logo’ that has been removed.

People know it as the “Indian cartoon” mascot that has been removed by Principal Kristin Bissett.

The school wanted to be represented as a warrior, as someone with pride, strength and spirit like an actual real Native American.

Mike Keffer, Protest Organizer

This was all done on Weir High’s level and not through the Hancock County Board of Education because the mascot is technically unofficial. The ‘W’ is the official logo. 

The school says they have the right to remove without permission needed from the BOE.  

But parents say the logo, removed from merchandise, has been around for decades.

For me, for the city of Weirton is a sense of pride. It’s a cherished, revered mascot. 

Denise Krofcheck, alumni, parent of son graduating

Protestors nearing 60 came out in shirts, hats with a recently removed logo on them. Many in the crowd know it as the ‘red rider’ depicted as the ‘Indian cartoon.’ 

I don’t understand how you could look at that and say ‘Yeah, that’s what a Native American looks like.’

Kiana Luevano, Weir High 9th grader, Native American

But still, some say their trademark is being ripped away from them though the letter ‘W’ is the official logo. 

Taking it off of our shirts, hats is a slap in the face. Yes, the W looks nice, but it wasn’t part of the school. Insensitive? No. I’m part Indian *holds up hand* that much. It doesn’t bother me. I’m proud.

Randy Bramhall, Weirton protestor in support of mascot

“That little cartoon, with the red skin, the big nose and the tomahawk; that’s just all stereotypes of Native Americans. And I don’t look at that and say ‘Yeah, I’m proud of that.’ 

Kiana Luevano, Weir High 9th grader, Native American

Kiana says the term ‘red rider’ is indeed racist. She and her family showed up to the rally to say good riddance to the logo and represent the handful of Native American families in Weirton. She says ‘red skin’ has connotations from history where large sums of money were paid to bring back a piece of Native American skin.

Others in the crowd called for compromise. They don’t like how abruptly the mascot was nixed and it could be erasing history. 

Weirton is a town of immigrants, 54 different nationalities. What’s the first nationality that was here? It was the Native American. They have a position as far as this town is concerned. That was always the way I looked at it. Do we want to drive that memory from the public square? 

Mark ZateZalo, West Virginia House of Delegates District 1

There’s an online petition with over 2,000 signatures to keep the ‘red rider’ that’s been on merchandise for over 70 years. The first district delegate thinks maybe a new logo, one that is less satire and more respectful, would be a compromise. 

“Conversation needs to happen.” 

7NEWS repeatedly reached out the Weir High’s principal regarding her stance on removing the mascot. As of 5:30 PM, but she has yet to respond.

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