CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Since the 1930s, the Bellefonte Area School District has held the nickname “Red Raiders” along with the logo of a Native American in headdress.
In April of 2021, discussions surrounding historical accuracy and respect for Native American culture led to the school board voting to retire the nickname and logo. Now, that has all changed.
Nine months later, the topic was revisited and the school board rescinded their decision. The Bellefonte Area School District is once again the “Red Raiders” and they won’t continue actively removing Native American imagery from their halls.
The message shared by many board members: “In order for us to move forward, we do have to rescind, and we do have to go back.”
About an hour of public comment highlighted both sides: those who view the school’s original branding as culturally disrespectful and those who view it as a community legacy.
School Board President Jeff Steiner said the Native American imagery is not actively used as the district previously decided to use the block-letter “B.”
“We no longer were using that imagery, so the action taken was unnecessary and also problematic because there was language in that action that said to remove all Native American imagery within a year,” said Steiner. “That’s why we rescinded that motion.”
Removing and replacing all Native American imagery was estimated to cost about $130,000.
Steiner said the branding committee, formed last year, will focus on ways to better define and document remaining Native American imagery.
For the school nickname, the word “Red” will return to “Red Raiders.”
“The name is the name. Red is the school colors. Raiders the Raiders,” said Steiner. “Now, some people want to think different than that. Some people want to make that into something else, but it just is not anything other than the name of the district.”
Now that a decision has been reached, Steiner said the school board can fully focus on the needs of Bellefonte students.
“We would just ask that everyone has grace,” said Steiner. “That those people who don’t agree with what we did last night, be open to the thought that maybe it isn’t what they think it is. And those folks that are happy with what we did last night, that they show everyone what it means to be a Bellefonte Red Raider.”