Cedar City Council postpones decision on ‘Redmen’ emblem on water tank

CEDAR CITY — The Cedar City Council has decided to postpone for at least one month a decision on whether to officially declare that the “Redmen” symbol should remain painted on the city’s water tank atop Leigh Hill.

Cedar City Council meeting attendees, including a number of people wearing “Redmen” shirts, Cedar City, Utah, June 12, 2019 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

At the council’s regular action meeting Wednesday night, Councilman Paul Cozzens proposed that the city adopt a resolution that proclaims the historical significance of the logo that has been painted on the tank since the early 1970s: the word “Redmen” atop a silhouette of a Native American chieftain wearing a headdress.

Cozzens also suggested adding the range of dates “1942-2019” to mark the years that the Redmen served as Cedar High School’s official symbol, which was officially retired by the Iron County School District Board of Education in February.

“This is in remembrance of a very proud time in our community,” Cozzens said during the meeting. “It was a sign of respect to the Native Americans as well as the pride of Cedar High School.”

However, Cozzens’ motion for the City Council to approve the resolution failed for lack of a second, after which another motion was made to table the matter until the council’s July 17 work meeting.

All five council members briefly weighed in on the issue during Wednesday’s meeting, sharing their thoughts and concerns. There were no additional comments from those in the audience, as the opportunity for public input was during last week’s work meeting.

Council members Terri Hartley and Craig Isom both expressed their disappointment in how certain Redmen supporters in the crowd treated two teenagers that spoke toward the end of the public comment period at last week’s meeting. One of the youth is a 2018 graduate of CHS and the other one is a current student at the school.

“It really got me thinking about those two students that came in and they wanted to be part of the discussion and to express their wishes in there, and they were booed and heckled,” Hartley said. “I was very disappointed to see that, because that can discourage them from wanting to participate in their community and government. And that got me thinking, ‘Who really is important in this discussion?’”

Cedar City Council members (L-R) Craig Isom, Scott Phillips and Paul Cozzens during the council’s regular meeting, Cedar City, Utah, June 12, 2019 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Hartley said the high school’s students should receive primary consideration with regard to any action or decision made by the council on the issue.

“I think anything that we consider, we should put the students, or the children in our community, at the forefront of everything that we decide, if it has to do with their high school,” she said.

Hartley said she’s also received emails from CHS teachers, students and others who are afraid of possible repercussions if they were to share their opinions publicly.

“They’re fearful of coming in and voicing their opinion in public,” she said. “That’s why they haven’t come forward.

“I’m proud of the Redmen. I’m disappointed to see my mascot has been used as a weapon against others. I’m just sorely disappointed to see what has happened in our community.

“By not supporting the resolution as written, I don’t want it to be seen that I don’t support the mascot. But I don’t think the resolution, the way it is currently drafted, … accomplishes what we’re trying to do.”

“I want to publicly apologize,” Isom added, also referring to how the students who spoke last week were treated. “I wish I had that young lady’s name from last week who came up and presented her position and was shouted down and went out of here in tears.

“A wise man once said, never let a problem to be solved be more important than the person involved.”

Isom also said even though the city does own the water tank, he is concerned about potential conflict between the city and the schools.

“There are two boards that have been duly elected, the school board and City Council,” Isom said. “And, I don’t think we should do each other’s work, so I’m concerned a little bit about putting ourselves into that discussion.”

The city-owned water tank atop Leigh Hill, Cedar City, Utah, June 12, 2019 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Councilman Scott Phillips also spoke about the importance of civil discourse.

“I believe that no matter the issue we face as a nation, as a state or as a community, we solve our differences through civil dialogue and mutual understanding. I believe that we may agree to disagree, but that everyone should be respected and heard.”

Phillips also spoke about trusting in the youth of the community.

“I believe that our young people are the future leaders of our great republic and we must allow them the same opportunities to learn and fail as we have experienced.”

Councilman Ron Adams, a Cedar High alumnus, said, “I have a lot of passion for Cedar High School and I always will.”

Nevertheless, Adams said passion shouldn’t be an overriding factor when making public decisions.

“I have an extreme passion, but I’m trying to take that out,” he said. “I never make decisions on this council, and I haven’t done for the last nine and a half years, by letting passions override common sense.”

Adams suggested the council set aside the matter for awhile.

“I would just suggest that we table it,” he said, adding that he had not received any complaints or any comments to remove the Redmen logo off the water tank prior to this month’s meetings.

“So, I kind of feel like we’re getting ahead of the game,” Adams said.

“There’s been nobody (that’s) asked us to remove it. That way, it stays there. I’m talking about tabling it indefinitely until maybe at a future date, if the high school decides on theirs and then approaches us, then we may have to open the discussion again. But in the meantime it would sit there.”

Cedar City Council member Scott Phillips (in tan suit coat) speaks about the “Redmen” water tank issue during the council’s regular meeting, Cedar City, Utah, June 12, 2019 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Adams also said he didn’t like the term “monument” used with regard to the tank, to which Cozzens said he would have no issue changing the wording.

“If we want to go into it from a monument to a landmark, I don’t care,” Cozzens said. “I’ll accept the motion. I could care less what we call it. Whether it’s a monument, a landmark or a final resting place, you know, whatever we want to call it.

“The resolution is pretty simple. It’s just honoring the past and honoring something that has been there for 50 years.”

Despite the differing viewpoints shared Wednesday night, multiple council members did seem to agree on the idea that the community needs to come together and heal.

“I believe that we are stronger when we work in harmony and for the common good,” Phillips said. “I believe this community must come together. They must move forward.”

Prior to next month’s meeting, council members said the public is welcome to continue to contact them and discuss their opinions regarding the issue.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.


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