I have previously expressed my concerns over the removal of long-held mascots and names in colleges from “the Cowboys” to “Shooter the Fox” to the Aztecs to the “Fighting Sioux” to “Chief Illini.” Now, the California State University at Long Beach has decided to dump its mascot, “Prospector Pete,” because some students complained that a gold miner from the 49ers is “offensive.”
Prospector Pete represents the many settlers who came to California in the Gold Rush. Because this period include violence against Native Americans, some students and groups have objected to the mascot.
The mascot was originally called the “The Forty-Niner Man,” in 1967. The choice of a 49er made sense for campus which was created in 1949 — one hundred years after the Gold Rush.
Nevertheless, President Jane Close Conoley declared “As our diversity grew and more voices were heard, we came to know that the 1849 California gold rush was a time in history when the indigenous peoples of California endured subjugation, violence, and threats of genocide.”
According to a report by the Los Angeles Times the school is now searching for a non-offensive mascot. Good luck with that.
Once again, I fail to see why this mascot is not a representation of a critical and transformative time for the school. The 49ers faced great challenges in crossing the continent to seek a better life and then scratching out a living in search of nuggets. It took no small degree of sacrifice and grit. The objection is to the period not every person who immigrated to California to prospect.
What do you think?