Whitman College in Walla Walla has changed its mascot to The Blues, a reference to the nearby mountain range.
So long, Missionaries. Hello, Blues.
After a months-long process, Whitman College in Walla Walla has chosen a new mascot to replace the Missionary, a mascot that alumni, faculty and students had deemed noninclusive and imperialistic. It also incorrectly implied that the private college is a religious school.
The new mascot, “The Blues,” is a reference to the area’s mountain range, the Blue Mountains, in Washington and Oregon and traversed by Interstate 84.
“The Blues evoke the expansive skyline of the West, the expansive way Whitman students see the world around them and the strong sense of connectedness amongst the members of the Whitman community and with our local community in the Walla Walla Valley,” the college said in a statement.
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The Blues was the first choice of 35 percent of the alumni, students, faculty and staff who responded to a survey. Fifty-eight percent voted it their first or second choice, and The Blues also received the smallest number of last-choice votes.
Other names that were under consideration: the Appaloosas, the Blue Ravens and the Sockeyes.
The Missionary mascot referred to Washington pioneers Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, for whom the school is named. The Whitmans came to Walla Walla in 1836 and attempted to convert the Cayuse Indians of the region to Christianity. The Whitmans were killed a decade later, when Native American sentiment turned against the pioneers after nearly all the Cayuse children and half the adults died from a measles epidemic.
The Missionary mascot was retired in April, after the school’s Mascot Working Group decided it was no longer appropriate.