TAMPA, Fla. — After more than six decades, Tampa’s Chamberlain High School will drop its “Chief” mascot and begin the process of finding a new one.
The Hillsborough County School Board heard emotional pleas from older alumni hoping to keep their current mascot before ultimately voting 5-1 in favor of change, after a recommendation from the school’s student government association.
Chamberlain’s SGA gathered input from students, faculty and alumni following a request from Title VI Native American Parent Advisory Council to change its mascot and imagery.
In May 2019, the district decided to change Native American mascots at six different schools across Hillsborough County. Only Chamberlain and East Bay High School “Indians” kept their old names.
Members of the Florida Indigenous Alliance demonstrated outside the meeting, saying the mascot is "inappropriate" and doesn’t honor those who it’s meant to represent.
Alumni argued on nostalgia’s sake, giving emotional pleas during public comment, “I’m extremely upset that Chamberlain high school is about to lose their chief, it meant a lot to me, to go to school. I was in the band, I was in the chorus and the preparation of being a proud chief, learning to fight for everything I had to have,” one speaker said while fighting back tears.
A new mascot hasn’t been selected yet, but the change will come with an estimated $50,000 price tag to replace signs, logos and athletic uniforms.
Some, including Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, a Chamberlain alumni, hope the name stays. “It is a proud, proud history of the Chamberlain chiefs,” Castor said during a news conference. “My personal opinion on that is that it should stay the Chamberlain Chiefs. Chief as in jacketed of prestigious position. I not only was a Chamberlain Chief I was a chief of police in the city of Tampa.”
Activists are also calling for East Bay High School to change its mascot, but the school has decided to keep its “Indian” nickname for now.