FORT LORAMIE – Fort Loramie Local Schools will not consider changing the name of its teams, Superintendent Dan Holland said in response to a resident asking the district to drop the Redskins moniker.
Fort Loramie resident Ann Bollheimer attended Monday’s Fort Loramie Board of Education meeting to address the board and encourage the school to drop the Redskins name. She wanted to start a dialogue in the community about the name and felt now was the right time to address the issue.
“Now is the time because the heightened awareness is there for us to at least bring it to attention, bring the problem to attention to the community,” said Bollheimer, whose four children graduated from Fort Loramie.
The death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by police in Minneapolis, sparked an international reckoning on race. In the months since then, companies have discontinued brands deemed offensive and Washington’s NFL team announced it will eliminate its use of the name Redskins.
In Fort Loramie, Bollheimer said, she wanted to be a voice for the Native American community.
“I’m trying to be a voice for people who don’t have a voice here,” she said. “I’m not Native American, but I recognize the depth of this problem.
“I try to keep up on what they’re really asking of the world through Chief Wahoo, Miami University. With the Washington Redskins, I always thought it was going to happen. It was just a matter of time.”
Bollheimer was the lone person who spoke in favor of dropping the Redskins name during Monday’s board meeting. Of the 14 people who spoke during the meeting, the vast majority of them were there to support the name, Holland said.
“There were people in attendance in support of keeping the mascot and then there was also a community member that spoke in looking to change our mascot,” the superintendent said.
“I thought everyone was very respectful. I thought everyone spoke very professionally. I thought folks were very passionate about their position. But there was nothing that in my opinion that was out of line or aggressive. Everyone did a very nice job of stating their opinions respectfully.”
The discussions about the Redskins name were part of the public comments portion of Monday’s meeting, not part of the meeting agenda. The school has had no discussions about changing the name and will not consider changing it, Holland said.
Native Americans are an important part of Fort Loramie’s history, Holland said, and the Redskins name largely is viewed positively in the community.
“People see it as a sense of pride,” he said. “People see it as a reflection of hard work. People see it as a positive thing.
“We think it reflects on our community as far as the hard work, work ethic.”
For years Bollheimer has thought Fort Loramie should drop the Redskins name but hesitated to raise her concerns because she knew there would be significant opposition to the idea. She has received support from people in the community who agree with her and thinks eventually all schools in Ohio will eliminate the use of names such as Redskins.
“There is a significant positive responses with my inbox in supporting this,” she said. “People do understand the racial implications that happened with this mascot and claiming it as our heritage.”
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