Toledo Could Soon Be Home of the ‘Timbers,’ ‘Bigfoots’ or ‘River Runners’

Legislature: Replacement for ‘Indians’ Sought as Bill Banning Native Mascots Passes


Local sports fields could soon be hosting the Toledo Timbers — or the Toledo Bigfoots, Steelheads, River Runners or Trappers. All are suggestions by community members as the school district looks to ditch its “Indians” moniker for a new mascot.

The Toledo Zombies and the Toledo Aliens were also submitted. It’s unclear what mascot will be deemed worthy by the community.

What is clear, though, is that despite creative juices now flowing through the town, some residents still have their heels dug in on rebranding.

On Facebook this week, the district reported that out of the 450 responses received the first day of their online survey, several submissions read: “Indians.”

“I hope everyone realizes this won’t be possible,” the post relayed.

Toledo’s most recent rebranding is at the behest of the state, which is poised to sign into law a bill largely prohibiting public schools from using Native American mascots or imagery without the approval of local tribes. The legislation was delivered to Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday.

The legislation won broad bipartisan support, including a “yes” vote from all lawmakers representing Lewis County. It was sponsored by the Legislature’s only Native American member, Rep. Debra Lekanoff, D-Bow.

Toledo has been home to the “Indians” for a century, and has slowly been phasing out mascot costumes, “Chief Wahoo” caricatures and other Native-themed imagery, often despite local outrage.

The account’s new profile picture — the normal T logo, minus the usual feathers — also drew the ire of some community members, who decried the change as “cancel culture” online this week.

The new image will serve as a temporary logo until a new mascot and corresponding imagery are selected. That process, according to the district, will include focus groups involving the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, students, alumni, coaches, family, staff and “remote friends of Toledo.”

And so far, the possibilities seem endless.

The Volcanoes, as one respondent suggested, could reference the nearby Mount St. Helens, whose crater, left by a violent 1980 eruption, can be seen throughout the region. Salmon or fish-related mascots could highlight the Cowlitz River and countless tributaries integral to Southwest Washington. A Sasquatch mascot could elevate Toledo’s lure to the likes of Forks, a small town still labeled as the land of vampires and werewolves.

Julie McDonald, a Toledo resident, historian and Chronicle columnist, said she’s in favor of the Sasquatch idea, noting Toledo’s unique role in developing the myth in the first place: Toledo resident Ray Wallace is still a household name, at least among Bigfoot enthusiasts.

In 2002, the community was rocked by news that Wallace had, for years, kept the hoax alive using wooden feet. Others contend that it was Toledo resident Rant Mullins who should be credited with keeping the legend alive.

“We should grab that name before someone else does,” McDonald said in an email.

Other long-time Toledo citizens, like City Councilor Glenda Forga, aren’t thrilled with the prospect of losing the decades-old “Indians,” name. Forga, a 1980 Toledo High School graduate, told The Chronicle that she, her mother, her children and her grandchildren have all gone through the district.

“Everyone sees it as an honor to the Cowlitz Tribe. We’ve never seen it as detrimental,” she said. “It just makes me heart-sick.”

Forga noted that she hadn’t yet looked at other mascot suggestions.