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Complaint heard by Port Neches-Groves ISD school board on topic of district's mascot

While the grievance was denied, the board did say they were open to forming a committee to address any name changes made in the future.

PORT NECHES, Texas — The school board at Port Neches-Groves ISD heard a complaint on Monday night in connection with an familiar debate about its mascot.

The PNGISD Indians have gone by the same name since 1925 according to the district. 

A concerned citizen spoke about it to the school board at its meeting on Jan. 11. 

12News has confirmed the man's name is Michael Mason. He's a former Mid County resident who now lives in California. 

Mason declined to speak to 12News in an interview, but has previously spoken out on social media against the mascot. 

While the grievance was denied, the board did say they were open to forming a committee to address any name changes made in the future. 

RELATED: Cherokee Nation to Port Neches-Groves ISD: Indians mascot "perpetuates harmful stereotypes & inaccurately depicts our culture"

In July 2020, the Cherokee Nation formally withdrew support of Port Neches-Groves Independent School District's use of the "Indians" name and called for the district to reconsider school traditions they call "harmful stereotypes." 

The letter withdrawing support came from Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr.

"I write to express our concerns about Port Neches-Groves Independent School District’s continued use of idealized Native American culture, practices, and symbols in the name of the Cherokee Nation," Hoskin said in a letter obtained by 12News

It's not a new debate, but rather, one that surfaces every few years. A July 2020 statement from PNGISD Superintendent Dr. Mike Gonzales was posted on the district's Facebook page in response.

"It seems that recently our school district has been repeatedly challenged by natural and manmade disasters," Gonzales said in the statement. "I'm also certain that many are aware of the recent strides and efforts of individuals to create tolerance and acceptance within our country and society. The irony behind those efforts is that the Port Neches Groves Independent School District has received them in the form of written and verbal attacks."

Gonzales said in the letter that PNG schools belong to the community, and any future decisions will also involve the community.

"It seems that our students, staff and community have come under criticism and ridicule for the 1925 decision to choose the Indian as a mascot," the statement continues. "After many years as the Indians, the Cherokee Nations certified and recognized Port Neches-Groves as "Ambassadors of Goodwill."

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