A Minnesota school is now looking for a new mascot. On Tuesday, Principal Levi Lundak sent an email to parents, notifying them that, due to a modification in state law and the dismissal of an appeal, the school is mandated to select a new mascot.

School officials have started the process of finding a replacement. Read the letter that parents received below.

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New Law Forces Minnesota School To Change Its Mascot

“When Dakota Middle School was built in 2020, Rochester Public Schools was honored to have a school named after the Dakota people, whose ancestral land we inhabit. We worked with the American Indian Parent Advisory Committee (AIPAC) and Native families and students to select the bison, and RPS’ American Indian Education department worked with a Native artist to create the depiction we proudly call our mascot.”

This last legislative session, the Minnesota legislature passed a law to end the use of Native mascots in Minnesota public schools. Schools had the opportunity to submit in writing a request for exemption to all eleven federally recognized tribes in Minnesota and the Tribal Nations Education Committee (TNEC), which District administration did for Dakota Middle School’s bison. We recently heard back from multiple tribes denying our exemption request, so we must change the Dakota mascot.

 RPS’ American Indian Education Department will again partner with AIPAC and the Dakota Middle School community to begin the process of determining the new mascot. Our goal is to create a mascot that will be accepted by TNEC. We will work with another Native artist and share the new mascot with the Dakota Middle School community before the start of the next school year.

Though it may be disappointing to change our mascot, RPS’ desire is to continue to honor the sacred land and traditions of the Dakota people and all indigenous people, and we look forward to doing so with our new mascot.

The school which began operating in 2022 says their goal is to find a suitable replacement that will still honor the heritage of Native families.

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Gallery Credit: Carly Ross

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