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Anderson schools discontinues basketball pre-game ceremony after public backlash

Video of ceremony criticized for depiction of indigenous peoples
Anderson High School
Posted at 1:16 PM, Jun 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-15 13:28:18-04

ANDERSON — The Anderson Community School Corporation has discontinued a decades-long basketball pre-game ceremony after public backlash surrounding its depiction of indigenous peoples.

The move follows a unanimous vote Tuesday by the Anderson Community Schools Board of Trustees to end the tradition, as recommended in a presentation by Superintendent Joe Cronk, according to district spokesman Brad Meadows.

However, the district will keep its mascot and team name — the Indians — as well as all associated logos and signage, Meadows said. That is also based on Cronk's recommendations.

The ceremony dates back to the early- to mid-1900s and features the mascot and a "maiden" at home basketball games, according to Meadows.

A review of the ceremony started in March after a TikTok of it shared in February at a home boys' basketball game went viral. The video is currently unlisted, but according to Cronk's presentation, it was viewed more than 1 million times. The school district received criticism as a result of the video.

"In response to the concerns, we formed an internal Task Force which consisted of 10 ACS staff members ... This group spent several weeks meeting, researching, documenting and outlining all the ways in which we represent our community's Native American history," Cronk's presentation states.

The presentation also states school officials consulted with Brad KillsCrow, the current Chief of the Delaware Tribe of Indians of the indigenous Lenape people. The City of Anderson is named after William Anderson, a former Chief of the Delaware Tribe.

"We will utilize the talents of the Anderson High School’s performing arts department to develop new routines at home sporting events to support our Indians’ tradition. This will be done in partnership with the Delaware Tribe of Indians to ensure authenticity and appropriateness," the presentation states. "The Delaware Tribe of Indians and its leadership have not made demands, but rather have been very honorable in working alongside us to continue the Indians tradition at Anderson High School in (an) honorable way.

Cronk wrote that keeping the Indian symbol, "retains the history, the imagery, and the spirit" of the tribe.

The full presentation can be viewed here. Recordings of the school board's meetings are posted to the district's Facebook page. Tuesday night's meeting can be viewed here.

WRTV has reached out to the Delaware Tribe for comment.