Monday, October 29, 2007

Arabspotting: Coachella Valley High School Arabs

Coachella Valley is probably best known today for its music festival, "Coachella," but arguably it is more important economically for its dates, which originally started in the late nineteenth century with shoots from Morocco, Egypt, Iraq and Algeria. Almost 95% of US-produced dates come from Coachella, and all the date varieties have Arabic names: Deglet Nour, Medjool, Halawy, Khadrawy, Zahidi and Thoory. Hence the name of the Coachella Valley High School mascot: the Arab.

The history below has some mistakes: the headscarf is not a hijab but, as readers of this blog know, a kufiya (keffiyeh) or shemagh or hatta or ghutra. And Saudi Arabia was never a colony of France! (Of Aramco, maybe.) And who knows why the Saudis think they had any thing to do with this Arab mascot, since the original date shoots were not from the Arabian peninsula.

Here's the history, from the CVHS Alumni Association website.

The Evolution of Our Mascot

The Arab mascot dates back to when Coachella Valley High School first began to compete in athletics in the 1920s. The school adopted the name Arabs in part to recognize the importance of the date industry in this end of the valley, but also because it fit in perfectly with the neighboring towns of Mecca, Oasis, Arabia, and Thermal.

The original Arab was drawn carrying a lance and riding a horse. On his head he wore a turban.

His image remained that way until sometime in the 1950s when the turban was replaced by a fez and the lance was replaced by a scimitar.

There were two versions of the mascot - a young one holding a scimitar and an old one with a growling face and a gold tooth.

Another change in the mascot came in the 1980s. A group of Arabs from Saudi Arabia who were in the area touring the desert's date industry recommended that the mascot's headdress be changed from a fez to a hijab or head scarf. Their reasoning was that Saudi Arabia was no longer under French rule; therefore, Saudi Arabians no longer wore the fez as their headdress.

The school voted to honor the request and the mascot began to be drawn as he still appears today.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

yea CV is one of the best schools in the valley! no one school like it. the mascot also beats the rajah from indio!!! GO ARABS!!!