Watertown High School

Class of 1956 ~ 55 Years of Ripening



The new WHS

Homecoming Legend


Members of the Arrow Nation, hear the story of your past! Listen, men! Listen, women! Listen to the story of the Arrows!


Long ago, the old ones tell us,

No one lived upon the prairies;

No one fished Kampeska's waters;

Until, a Hunter wandering westward,

Saw the shells upon the shore,

Called the lake and land Kampeska,

Meaning place of Shining Shells.


And the Hunter, turning homeward,

Told a friend of Shrinking Shells,

Of the lake and of the prairie,

Fine for hunting, fine for fishing,

Fine for planting fields of corn.

Thus it was that some came westward,

Westward to the lonely land,

Westward to the lake, Kampeska,

To the place of Shining Shells.


Some who came, the Purp1e Council,

Purple group of greatest daring.

They were first upon Kampeska ...

Building fires for their homes,

Staking claims upon its waters,

Keeping others from its shores;

Daring others who would come there:

"Try to take this land we've chosen!

We will fight you with our weapons

And drive you from our shores!”


There were others who would come there...

People of the Golden Council,

Seeking land around Kampeska

For their fires and their homes.

So the men of Gold

Took the dare and drew their weapons.

Golden Council found their targets

In the hearts of the Purple heroes.

Purple Council shot weapons in anger,

Killed the heroes of the Golden Council.

There was chaos on Kampeska!

The was blood upon its shores.


Women of the Purple Council -

Women of the Golden Council

Prepared weapons for their loved ones

And wept within for the Fallen Heroes.


There were some who felt the rhythm

As a Message to the Wise.

"Come," it said to the Purple Council.

"Come," it said to the Golden Council.

Send your protectors and your guardians

To make new peace within the land.

So they came in a XXX together


And the Councils chose their Leaders

From the Purple and from the Gold.

These would be the chosen

To forever protect and guard the Legend.

The team chose its leader

To be Champion of the Fighting Arrows.

And the Purple and the Gold became the


The Councils thus united...

Chose a Protector and a Guardian,

And they were one together

PURPLE and GOLD - The Arrows!


That's the story of our starting,

How we grew to be the Arrows.

Over years, others heard it,

Remembering the traditions

As they traveled far from here,

Learning that the past gives meaning

To the hopes of future years.


More than three quarters of a century since our


First we told to those who grew

To carry memories of the past

Into years with some things new.


Seventy-seven years the threads were spinning

Weaving time into a patterns

Rich with memories of our own.


In a world of troubled nations,

Talk of war and human grief,

We, the Arrows, live together,

Companions bound by ties of love.

Four short years we stay as Arrows;

Four short years we work together.


Let us pledge ourselves to striving,

Learning, growing, living wise,

So that we may be the leaders

In a future full of hope.


SENIORS - Time is short for your achieving.

JUNIORS -Time may catch you if you're dreaming.

SOPHOMORES/FRESHMEN - Time may rob you

while you're waiting.


Heads can save a nation

Hearts can save a friend

If hands are there to lend.


Gifts God gave to us.

Let us pledge to make our lifetime

Worth the time and effort here,

So that those who come tomorrow

Follow footsteps sure and clear.


77 years, the Legend's been shared,

77 years, our numbers have grown,

Year after year, the Arrows unite,

KNOWING, we truly belong.

Saying goodbye is never is never an easy thing

 There was a time when, children sped around on their bicycles with no helmet to protect themselves from injury. 


 There was a time when babies sat on mommy’s lap while traveling in, automobiles. There was a time when everybody chuckled at the latest Polish joke.  There was a time when white folks painted their faces black and staged “minstrel shows” lampooning-African Americans as lazy, dim-witted buffoons who liked to sing.


 Times change, and most often, those changes are for the better.  Since the late 1930s, Watertown High School's homecoming celebration was based on a Native American “legend” about two tribes battling over land on the shores of Lake Kampeska. They eventually made peace and came together as one, and the WHS students were supposedly descendants of that tribe. 


 The legend was unique among high schools. Generations of Watertown graduates enjoyed it and took pride in it. Members of the homecoming royalty donned fringed costumes and feathered headdresses and were paraded down Kemp Avenue every fall.


 For the past several years, however, such use of Native American imagery has fallen out of favor, much like making fun of African Americans through minstrel shows. Those who want to ignore reality and blindly cling to tradition often say WHS was “honoring” Native people with the legend.  But if those who are supposedly being honored don’t feel honored, what are we accomplishing? 

 For better or worse, we live in the age of social media where people feel free to spout their opinions, cursing and ridiculing anyone who disagrees. There’s a lot of that happening now. Many are criticizing our school for making changes to the legend to make it less offensive. 


 We believe those people are misguided. 


 First of all, the legend didn‘t change much. It is still about two groups of people coming together for the greater good.  Those who are saying the school “got rid of" the  legend probably didn’t take time to read the newest version. (See Tuesday’s P/O or thepublicopinion.com to read the revised legend.)

 And this isn’t even the first time the legend has been tweaked. Early on, there were references to bloody tomahawks. The feathered headdresses were later scrapped.


 When William Mendoza, executive director of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education, spoke at the annual BISCO Barbecue in Watertown in March, he presented some compelling evidence that using outdated Native imagery is harmful to Native children. One audience member asked if that harm could be precisely measured, like a fever-sufferer’s temperature. Of course it can’t, but just because the harm can’t be measured, why should we keep inflicting it?


 Over the past few years, Watertown’s homecoming had stopped being a source of pride. Its theme of coming together had morphed into one of division. Some members of the royalty didn't want to dress up in the traditional garb. Many students feared coming to school during Ki-Yi Week because of possible protests. 

 That’s not what homecoming is supposed to be about, and regardless of people’s memories of the past, that’s what it had become. Nobody in the school district is to blame for that reality, but school officials correctly realized maintaining the legend as it was would only cause more problems in the future. It wasn’t something that was going to go away. In fact, it would probably just get worse.

 So the school district gathered a group of former homecoming royalty spanning several decades, along with current students and teachers, to “modernize” the legend. Their goal was to keep the legend unique and something to be proud of without it being offensive. 


 We believe they did a great job and should be commended. 


 And to those unabashedly venting their ire over the change, you can cherish your memories of earlier days, but remember that times have changed and the experiences of today’s students are much different than yours. 


 The updated legend contains a section we should all take to heart:  “That’s the story of our starting,

How we grew to be the Arrows. 

Over years, others heard it,

Remembering the traditions 

As they traveled far from here,

Learning that the past gives meaning

To the hopes of future years.”