Alumnus wants Keyport High School to change Native American mascot

A Monmouth County man is calling for his alma mater to change its mascot because he believes it to be offensive.

The Keyport High School Red Raiders use an Indian chief in full headdress and an arrow as team symbols.

An alumnus of the school is calling on the district to change it, because he thinks it is offensive to Native Americans. Aaron Bowers told the Keyport Board of Education at their last meeting that the Lenape Tribes want the mascot changed.

Many in the town say that they do not agree with Bowers.

Keyport resident Danielle Zweidinger says that she is part Native American and says she has no issue with the mascot.

"My father is a Mohawk and we don't find it offensive," she says. "We lived in town my whole life."

Zweidinger says her boys proudly wear the Indian logo representing their heritage on their school soccer jerseys and an arrow on their helmets.

"Everyone considers themselves a Red Raider, and we were never derogatory towards the mascot playing football," says former Keyport Mayor John Merla.

Merla says that players have always tapped on the Indian symbol for good luck.

The symbols appear on all sorts of school paraphernalia, including signs, banners, T-shirts and the sports scoreboard. Many in the district feel that it would be too expensive to change.

"I'd rather them spend money on helping the school with their learning," says one of Zweidinger's sons.

The school board is expected to vote on whether or not to change the symbol at a meeting Wednesday night.

Bowers declined News 12 New Jersey's request for comment.

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