California college gets rid of Prospector Pete mascot amid concerns of racism
© YouTube/CBS Los Angeles

Officials at California State University, Long Beach, have ended the school's use of its mascot, Prospector Pete, over concerns that the use of a settler-era mascot for the school was racially insensitive.

The school's president, Jane Close Conoley, announced the end of the mascot's use on Friday in a letter to students and alumni, citing a 2014 decision to begin moving away from the use of the "49er" and "prospector" imagery on its sports teams.

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In her statement, Conoley linked the prospector imagery to California's gold rush, during which indigenous Americans often endured violence from and were enslaved by settlers in order to build Christian missions.

Cal State Long Beach's campus, according to local NBC affiliate NBC4, was built on land owned by the Tongva Tribe. The tribe, the outlet notes, was said to have been enslaved by settlers and forced into labor.

"As our diversity grew and more voices were heard, we came to know that the 1849 California gold rush was a time in history when the indigenous peoples of California endured subjugation, violence and threats of genocide," Conoley wrote.

"Therefore, the university will officially “retire” the Prospector Pete mascot," Conoley continued, adding, "However, we want to recognize and preserve our history. To honor our alumni we will be relocating the statue to an area on campus dedicated to our alumni."

According to NBC4, students at the university drafted a resolution to remove the statue in Sept. 2017. The resolution stated that more than 80 percent of indigenous American populations were killed in the two decades following the Gold Rush enslavement, malnutrition and violence.

Controversy over the use of racially insensitive mascots has drawn greater attention in recent years among college and professional sports teams. Last year, the Justice Department announced it would drop a legal challenge over the name of the NFL's Washington Redskins despite concerns that the name is racist.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpKey takeaways from the Arizona Senate debate Major Hollywood talent firm considering rejecting Saudi investment money: report Mattis says he thought 'nothing at all' about Trump saying he may leave administration MORE has indicated that he does not believe organizations should have to change their mascots over concerns of racism.

“I know Indians that are extremely proud of that name,” Trump said in October 2015.

“Honestly, I don’t think they should change the name, unless the owner wanted to," he added at the time.