HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - For years, Kahuku sporting events have been widely known for two things: Immense athletic talent on the field, and over-the-top pride and school spirit among the fans.
The famous war chant in particular during kickoff at football games never fails to get thousands of people with white rally towels on their feet — especially if a state championship is on the line.
But changes are coming to the name and look of the Kahuku High and Intermediate “Red Raider” mascot after heated discussions about race and ethnic groups across the nation.
In a letter to the school community Friday, Principal Dr. Donna Lindsey said the DOE’s Civil Rights Compliance Branch (CRCB) received a complaint that the mascot, and the use of the tomahawk chop at school sporting events, was disrespectful, and offensive toward Native Americans.
The school’s mascot was intended to reflect a Polynesian warrior rather than a Native American — but still the CRCB suggested it was best to avoid any human or ethnic representation in the mascot and name altogether.
A response from the CRCB said they acknowledged the long-standing history of the school’s Red Raider legacy.
“The CRCB is not discounting the intense emotional attachment the Kahuku community has to their mascot. We are well aware that there are very strong feelings on both sides of this issue,”
The school will now work with a neutral third party to find a new mascot that isn’t based in race, color, ancestry and national origin. The school says all stakeholders will be involved and heard in the process going forward.
“Our school’s proud history will not be affected by this change,” Principal Lindsey added. “We will remain united in supporting our incredible students and honoring our cherished alumni.”
Hawaii News Now has reached out to the Kahuku Football head coach and others for additional reaction, and is waiting to hear back.
Read the full response from the CRCB below:
This story may be updated.