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Lt. Gov. Morales asked Cobre schools to remove Chief Wahoo from baseball stadium

Lt. Gov. request removal of mascot from Howie Morales Stadium

Bill Armendariz
Silver City Sun-News
Howie Morales Stadium at Rominger Field in Bayard NM is the home ball park for the Cobre High Indians baseball teams. The bottom-right of the signage has the cartoon mascot of Chief Wahoo.
Morales

DEMING – Drawn by his love for baseball and the high school he once coached at in the early 2000s, Lt. Gov. Howie Morales has made a request to the Cobre Consolidated School District. Morales asked Cobre Consolidated Schools Superintendent Robert Mendoza to consider removing the Cobre High baseball program’s mascot, Chief Wahoo, from the baseball field in Bayard, NM.

Morales says he has a deep respect for the people of Bayard and shares the pride among Cobre High baseball players and its’ fan base. “There is a long-standing tradition and generations of Cobre High Indians. I do not advocate for that to be changed. It is a reflection of the beauty of our culture and the Native Americans that were rooted in Grant County. I want to be clear on that because it identifies on who we are and the culture of the community.”

The mascot that was once adopted by the school’s baseball program in the 1960s is the cartoon caricature of Chief Wahoo used by professional baseball’s Cleveland Indians that dates to the 1940s.

Rominger Field in Bayard, NM is the home field of the Cobre High Indians. The signage reads Howie Morales Stadium as you enter the grandstand. To the right of that signage is the Chief Wahoo mascot.

Morales was raised in Grant County and was head coach of the Cobre High baseball program from 2001 to 2009. His teams were involved in state championship play five of the nine years he coached, and the 2008 varsity won the state championship – the fifth in school history.

“When I coached at Cobre High we used the mascot on our team apparel and took pride in that. As time has gone on and times have changed, there has been a disassociation with the cartoon character of Chief Wahoo and how it depicts Native American people,” Morales said. “It is perceived as a racist mascot.”

Morales added the sentiment on Chief Wahoo was brought to his attention by Native Americans. “I never viewed it in that way until I was told by a friend I greatly respected,” Morales said. “I now know it is demeaning to the Native American people and they should not be represented by a cartoon character. The Native Americans are a strong and resilient people.”

The Cobre Consolidated Schools Board of Education is planning to address the request by Lt. Gov. Morales during a virtual board meeting. The board may also investigate the C.C. Snell Middle School mascot, the Redskins, at that time. The middle school formerly used Eagles as a mascot before changing to the Redskins in the 1980s.

Despite pressing issues regarding education and the COVID-19 pandemic in New Mexico, Morales took time to address this issue and said, “Just because we didn’t get it right in the past doesn’t mean we can’t make it right in the present.”

Bill Armendariz can be reached at 575-546-2611 (ext. 2606) or biarmendariz@demingheadlight.com.