California School Keeping ‘Indians’ Nickname Championed by Cahuilla Tribe

Facebook/Palm Springs Indians High School Cheer
Facebook/Palm Springs Indians High School Cheer

Schools and sports organizations across the United States are stripping names and images connected to Indian tribes, but at Palm Springs High School in California “Indians” will remain its nickname —a move approved by administration officials and the Cahuilla Indians.

The school, in fact, is a revered institution where people of all backgrounds have been educated, including generations of the Cahuilla tribe. 

Moreover, the tribe has played an intricate role in determining school policies, including the use of its nickname and preventing the use of any images or logos that would be considered derogatory.

The Desert Sun reported on the school’s stand:

When a high school was built in Palm Springs in 1938, the school’s nickname became the Indians, out of respect for the history of the area and its indigenous people.

Despite Native American advocacy groups and others mounting pressure against several professional sports franchises to change names and logos they believe to be racist, the nickname at Palm Springs High School will remain. The school has preserved a close relationship with the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and regularly consults the tribe on its use of the nickname.

“We want to make sure that we show complete respect for them and thank them for everything they do because they are a big part of our community,” Michael Ventura athletics director at the high school, said.

“Three of the five current Tribal Council members graduated from Palm Springs High School,” said Tribal Chairman, Jeff. L. Grubbe, who is among the three. “We value the relationship we have with the school and appreciate that they seek our input and guidance on culturally sensitive topics.”

“Together, the tribe and the school agreed that the school would keep the Indians nickname in honor of the tribe’s history and longstanding contributions to the Coachella Valley’s immemorial past and current presence,” the Sun reported. “The school’s current logo, which the tribe had input on, is now simply the letters “P” and “S” and the word “Indians” is painted in massive lettering on the outside of the school’s gymnasium.”

The media outlet spoke to Casey Libretti, a star football player and recent graduate of the high school. His family belongs to the Cahuilla Indian Tribe.

Libretti said attending the school was a source of pride.

“The mascot being the Indians is honestly one of the biggest reasons why I always wanted to go there,” Libretti said. “The tribe fully supports it and the only way the school could have built on native land is if they named it what they did.”

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