(SAVANNAH, Mo.)— The Savannah R-3 School District has used "Savages" as the school's mascot for decades. Some believe it reflects pride and a force of nature mentality, but others see it to be offensive.
"We're trying to let kids now know that it's derogatory, connecting the combo and the word "Savages" and it's very insensitive," Savannah graduate Kaiser Haag said.
Haag, a 2010 graduate, is a member of the Kansas Kickapoo Tribe and is speaking out against the mascot.
The debate to change Savannah's long-standing mascot started up againt last month when Amanda Barr, a Savannah high school graduate herself, created an online petition that has garnered more than 4,000 signatures.
"It has been used for 500 years in the Americas to describe people to be uncivilized or beast," Barr said.
While there have been several speaking out in favor of change, there are are several who are working to keep the mascot the same.
Another Savannah graduate, Jeff Hovey, created a counter petition.
"Myself and everyone on my side of the debate do not see it as offensive because we honor those that came before us and never use the term in a derogatory fashion. The name is not directed at one race," said Hovey in a statement to KQ2.
Meanwhile, Savannah graduate turned coach and employee in the district, Hunter Bailey said he is against a name change, but is open to having conversations regarding the mascot.
"I am pretty firm in that," Bailey said. "I'll be pretty hard headed when it comes to that question, but to also make it clear, I am absolutely confident that we can entertain a conversation and we can sit down and discuss this."
The conversation will continue Tuesday night during the school district's Board of Education meeting. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the Savannah High School Gymnasium.
People are allowed to speak on the matter during the public comment section of the meeting, but per board policy, the board will not make any decisions that night on matters addressed during public comments.