More than an image: Harlandale Indians share history, message of popular team logo

Harlandale High School and the Washington Redskins share a logo that has been in the national spotlight recently.

SAN ANTONIO – It’s been one week since the Washington Redskins announced the retirement of their team name and logo. The Indian head logo had been with the NFL franchise since the early 1970′s. The former team name goes back to 1933.

The conversation of changing the names, mascots and logos of other sports teams, such as Braves, Apaches and Indians, continues around the country.

That debate could soon hit Harlandale ISD.

Before that happens, it’s important to know why changing the name and logo of the Harlandale Indians won’t happen without listening to the community that takes pride in what Harlandale High School is all about.

Harlandale Indians share meaning and history to one of their team logos
Harlandale Indians share meaning and history to one of their team logos

The Harlandale Indians share a very similar but slightly altered logo as the Washington Redskins according to Harlandale High School Principal Alfred Anthony. The Indian head logo can be found on t-shirts, at Harlandale Memorial Stadium and most notably on the helmets of the football team.

“We started using that logo back in the 1980′s,” said Anthony last week to KSAT 12 Sports. “There’s several logos we’ve used over the years but this one has stuck with us for awhile. However, logos come and go.”

Harlandale Indians logo at Harlandale Memorial Stadium.
Harlandale Indians logo at Harlandale Memorial Stadium. (Copyright 2020 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

At this time, Harlandale has no plans to replace the name or logo of the high school’s athletic teams or on the district’s football stadium. An essay written by Robert Villafranca, who graduated from Harlandale High School in 1977, was released early last week by Harlandale ISD at the same time the Washington Redskins were saying goodbye to their team name and logo. The essay defends the school’s use of the term Indian.

“I’m sure the discussion will come,” added Anthony. “Where will we go with that, I don’t know. I’ve had a lot of people say ‘please don’t change it.‘ We have to respect the past but we also live in the present. This will be discussed with heart. That mascot is more than just a name, it’s who we are.”

Cultural Arts Festival through Harlandale ISD.
Cultural Arts Festival through Harlandale ISD. (Copyright 2020 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

Unlike many schools around the country who have Native American names and mascots, the Harlandale Indians have strong roots in the community that supports and remembers the Indigenous people who once lived in the 14 square miles that make up Harlandale ISD.

Every year, Harlandale ISD hosts a Cultural Arts Parade and Festival. The event, usually held on a Saturday, invites members of the Inter-Tribal Council of American Indians. A parade starts at Mission San Jose, where a dozen roses are laid at the Rose Window, and ends at Harlandale Memorial Stadium.

“This community has done a wonderful job of paying homage and showing total respect to the Native American community. That’s something we take a lot of pride in because of who we are and where we are from,” Anthony said.

Cultural Arts Festival through Harlandale ISD.
Cultural Arts Festival through Harlandale ISD. (Copyright 2020 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

Considering that most people have more pressing issues at the forefront of their lives right now, a debate whether Harlandale High School should change their name and sports logo is something that will tackled in the future to be sure.

But changing something that has been a long standing tradition would not be easy for students and alumni who are proud to call themselves Harlandale Indians.

“My parents are products of Harlandale High School‚” said Anthony, who is entering his eighth year as Harlandale’s principal. “I’ve never seen a stronger alumni base and school pride. When we have reunions, it’s wonderful hearing what this school means to them, you hear their stories. You usually hear that at the university level but not the high school level. ‘Indians’ to us is family, of this community, who we identify with, what Harlandale is all about.”

On Sunday night’s “Instant Replay”, KSAT 12 Sports ran a poll question on Twitter, asking viewers if they thought the Harlandale Indians name and logo should be changed. Out of the 801 votes, 60.4% of those who voted said to leave the name and logo the same.

Daniel P. Villanueva has worked with KSAT 12 Sports for over 17 years and is an award-winning sports producer. To submit story ideas, email dvillanueva@ksat.com

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