Debate over Hononegah High's mascot leads thousands of students to sign petitions

ROCKTON, Ill. (WIFR) ----- Thousands of students and community members at Hononegah High School are at odds over the school's mascot and chant.

"The settlers that came before us and we should respect that. To change that would be washing away all that history and I don't believe in that," said Hudson.

Hononegah High School senior Caleb Hudson is one of more than 4,000 voices fighting to keep the Indian symbols on campus, calling it more than just a chant.

"I believe it's a little less of a social argument and more just the history of this town and what it was built on. And I believe paying homage to that history is important to keep it alive," said Hudson.

This comes after the Hononegah Students for a Democratic Society started a petition, pushing the school board to stand in solidarity with hundreds of native tribes across the nation that call for the removal of the iconography in sports and other schools.

Hudson says he understands the frustration, but says this situation is different.

"I see where they could, where it's racist, you know, with like an NFL team, like the Washington Redskins, like I see that to be a little more offensive. But, we're the Hononegah Indians. It's not very derogatory at all," said Hudson.

As the conversation continues, Hudson says he hopes tradition will prevail.

"I honestly believe that it's just, it's basically history, and it's nothing more than that," said Hudson.

School Board president David Kurlinkus says the school board is open to any and all communication from its parents, students, faculty and staff and will address any concerns when they arise.

23 News tried to speak to members of the Hononegah Students for a Democratic Society, but they told us the organization is not allowed to speak to the media.