John Bowden, The Hill, September 22, 2018
Officials at California State University, Long Beach, have ended the school’s use of its mascot, Prospector Pete, over concerns that the use of a settler-era mascot for the school was racially insensitive.
The school’s president, Jane Close Conoley, announced the end of the mascot’s use on Friday in a letter to students and alumni, citing a 2014 decision to begin moving away from the use of the “49er” and “prospector” imagery on its sports teams.
In her statement, Conoley linked the prospector imagery to California’s gold rush, during which indigenous Americans often endured violence from and were enslaved by settlers in order to build Christian missions.
Cal State Long Beach’s campus, according to local NBC affiliate NBC4, was built on land owned by the Tongva Tribe. The tribe, the outlet notes, was said to have been enslaved by settlers and forced into labor.
“As our diversity grew and more voices were heard, we came to know that the 1849 California gold rush was a time in history when the indigenous peoples of California endured subjugation, violence and threats of genocide,” Conoley wrote.
“Therefore, the university will officially “retire” the Prospector Pete mascot,” Conoley continued, adding, “However, we want to recognize and preserve our history. To honor our alumni we will be relocating the statue to an area on campus dedicated to our alumni.”