KENNEWICK — Kamiakin sports teams will likely get to continue being the Braves for one more year, but another Kennewick school will be changing its mascot.

The Kennewick School District has been facing a deadline to switch the mascots of Kamiakin and Legacy high schools, or get permission from tribes in neighboring counties to keep them.

The district has contacted the Yakama, Umatilla and Colville Confederated tribes ahead of the Jan. 1, 2022, deadline that was part of a new Washington state law requiring districts to stop using Native American names, symbols or images as mascots, logos or team names.

While a meeting with the Yakama Tribal Council met with “diverse feedback and perspective,” the school board heard that the Yakama Nation would let Kennewick keep using the Braves for the next year.

Elese Washines, the higher education manager for the Yakama Nation, told the school board Wednesday night that the tribal council likely will approve a one-year agreement, according to an email sent to parents in the district.

The extra time would let them “engage in a consultation process with the district.” The tribal council is expected to meet in December to approve the agreement.

It’s unclear what would be included in that process.

While Kamiakin will be able to keep the Braves, the Yakama Nation couldn’t approve of the Legacy High School Thunderbirds.

Since the symbol comes from coastal tribes, the tribal council didn’t think it was within their purview to agree to that name. That means the alternative high school will need a new mascot.

The district already was putting together a committee to suggest a name. A recommendation will be presented at the Dec. 8 school board meeting.

”We are grateful for the opportunity to continue to build a collaborative relationship with the Yakama Nation, and we look forward to continuing the consultation process for tribal curriculum and mascot use that honors the Native American community,” according to the notice to parents.

Kamiakin’s link

Kennewick officials have been hoping that Kamiakin’s link with the Yakama Nation would help their case. The Yakama Nation signed off on letting the school district use the chief’s name in 1970.

The school was named after Chief Kamiakin, a leader of the Yakama, Palouse and Klickitat people in the mid-1800s in southeastern Washington.

Officials said they picked the name out of respect for area indigenous people. At the time, administrators worked with the tribe and Kamiakin’s relatives, said school officials.

Tribal members, including Kamiakin’s great-great-great granddaughter, were involved with opening the school in 1970. Events included a presentation about the history and culture of the Yakamas.

The Braves name was chosen to symbolize “courage and strength,” school officials said. And recent years, the Yakama Nation has not complained to the district.

Past request

This is the latest in a series of requests that schools move away from using Native American names and symbols for mascots.

The state Board of Education adopted a 1993 resolution asking districts to review “building names, mascots, logos, activities, events, portrayal of caricatures and behaviors” to make sure they weren’t derogatory.

The board returned to the issue in 2012 with a resolution directing districts to stop using the names and mascots. At the time, Kennewick leaders said the the topic had come up over the years, but there was never a serious push to change it.

The state returned to the issue during the recent session of the Legislature. The bill had widespread bipartisan support, passing 92-5 in the House and 40-9 in the Senate.

In Washington state, 35 of the 420 high schools in the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association had Native American-themed names, such as the Raiders, Chiefs and Red Devils.