AHS Should Offer Aid to the White Mountain Apaches

Joy Herrera, Staff Writer

AHS was founded in 1952, and since then, the school has used a variety of symbols and emblems associated with Native Americans. However, since the 1990s, there has been pushback over the use of the symbol of the Apache, with another wave recently resurfacing online. AHS has a long history with the White Mountain Apaches who in the early 2000s, formed a relationship with the school by hosting annual donation drives in exchange for the Apaches’ permission to use their name.

Times have changed, and many students and alumni are now pushing harder than ever to do better by the White Mountain Apaches and have AHS change the emblem. So far, these calls have not resulted in changes made by the administration, but talks have started towards changing the name of campus organizations such as The Apache Pow Wow and removing the last of the insignias around the school. These actions are largely performative and do little to nothing to help the White Mountain Apaches who at this time are suffering severely under the strain of COVID-19. 

According to The Arizona Central, 10% of the White Mountain Apaches are infected with COVID-19 and even worse, much of the community does not have access to water. It may be tempting to focus on actions that will assuage the collective guilt of the community for using symbols that are deeply linked with racism but the correct actions to take would be to reach out to the community which we have been profiting from and support them in their time of need. The Arcadia community, as well as the administration, claims that the symbol of the Apache has been used with respect, but I believe the best way to show this respect in this time would be to organize efforts to reach out and offer aid to the Apaches. AHS can hold donation drives for face masks, gloves, sanitizers, and other protection supplies. Even if the designation changes, our fundraisers, toy and jacket drives, and canned food drives should continue as recognition of AHS’s history.

Even if the symbol of the Apache has not directly impacted an individual students’ high school experience, we must not be complacent with outdated practices. In our own community, we have this designation which might not be malicious but is definitely insensitive and must be addressed. The best way to do this is to recognize the school’s history of the Apache designation and continue a supportive relationship with the Apaches, not merely rebranding our image. Aid can come in multiple forms, monetary or not. Reaching out and offering aid are important processes in recognizing and addressing the problematic history of the emblem. The actions we take should not be about making the school look better or saving face but actually helping the people we pledge to honor and admire.