POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - During Tuesday night's regular meeting, the School District 25 Board of Trustees unanimously voted to replace the Pocatello Indians with the Pocatello Thunder.
Randy'L Teton, the Public Affairs Director for the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, spoke in favor of the Board's decision to retire the Indians mascot, saying this is something the Tribes have been requesting since the 90s.
After retiring the Indians mascot in September, the Board asked for public input to find the new identity for the district's oldest high school. The district conducted a survey to find the community's favorite mascot choice.
Among the top picks were the Pocatello Phantoms and the Pocatello Bison. Thunder was split between two options; Pocatello Thunder with Thunder imagery or Pocatello Thunder with Bison imagery. The Board chose to leave the imagery open for now.
The Board plans to call for proposals using the criteria set forth by the mascot selection committee to gather potential artwork and imagery for consideration, according to SD25's statement. Pocatello High School will keep its red and blue school colors.
However, the survey indicated some concerns community members have with the Phantoms mascot they do not have with Bison. People predominantly felt the Phantoms did not meet the criteria of promoting school pride, honoring school heritage, or emulating positive characteristics of the school.
Students at PHS who were vying for the Phantoms sold T-shirts with a draft mascot to garner interest for their pick.
Luke Smith, the student behind the T-shirts, spoke against the Bison mascot at the Board meeting, worrying the Bison could still be used by other schools to make racist comments and actions against Native Americans.
Several board members expressed indifference to both the Phantoms and Bison, and worried neither express a positive or uplifting image of Pocatello High School.
Board members considered allowing the school community to weigh in on what the imagery and branding of the Thunder will look like. They also considered leaving the Thunder imagery open, in order to allow for creativity and flexibility in the future.
The Thunder mascot will go into effect in June 2021.