Rochester middle school has to stop using bison mascot 

The mascot artwork was designed by a Native American artist. 

A Rochester middle school can no longer use the bison as its mascot. (Dakota Middle School/Facebook)

A Rochester middle school can no longer use the bison as its mascot thanks to legislation passed by Minnesota’s Democratic trifecta last session.

Under legislation signed by Gov. Tim Walz, public schools are now forbidden from using a “name, symbol, or image that depicts or refers to an American Indian Tribe, individual, custom, or tradition” as a mascot.

The law allowed schools to seek exemptions, which needed to be approved by all 11 tribal nations in Minnesota as well as the Tribal Nations Education Committee by Dec. 15 of last year. Schools that did not receive an exemption must comply with the new law by Sept. 1, 2025.

Various outlets reported this week that Dakota Middle School’s bison mascot did not get approval from the tribes. A spokesperson for the district confirmed with Alpha News that “the mascot is what needs to be changed, not the school name.”

“Schools had the opportunity to submit in writing a request for exemption to all eleven federally recognized tribes in Minnesota and the Tribal Nations Education Committee (TNEC), which District administration did for Dakota Middle School’s bison. We recently heard back from multiple tribes denying our exemption request, so we must change the Dakota mascot,” Principal Levi Lundak said in an email to families Tuesday, according to KTTC.

The middle school just opened in 2022 and developed its mascot in consultation with an American Indian Parent Advisory Committee, the outlet reported. The mascot artwork was designed by a Native American artist.

“[Rochester Public Schools’] American Indian Education Department will again partner with AIPAC and the Dakota Middle School community to begin the process of determining the new mascot. Our goal is to create a mascot that will be accepted by TNEC. We will work with another Native artist and share the new mascot with the Dakota Middle School community before the start of the next school year,” Lundak wrote.

“Though it may be disappointing to change our mascot, RPS’ desire is to continue to honor the sacred land and traditions of the Dakota people and all indigenous people, and we look forward to doing so with our new mascot,” he added.

The Warroad Warriors were granted an exemption to the Native American mascot ban after several community members, including the late hockey legend Henry Boucha, spoke out in defense of the name.


Anthony Gockowski

Anthony Gockowski is Editor-in-Chief of Alpha News. He previously worked as an editor for The Minnesota Sun and Campus Reform, and wrote for the Daily Caller.