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Look what crews uncovered behind the trophy cabinet in the old Boise High gym

An image of an Indian brave, possibly painted in the 1940s, on the wall of Boise High’s gym. The school has retired images of native people that some find offensive. School staffers haven’t decided what they will do with this antique once the new building is complete.
An image of an Indian brave, possibly painted in the 1940s, on the wall of Boise High’s gym. The school has retired images of native people that some find offensive. School staffers haven’t decided what they will do with this antique once the new building is complete. Boise High School

Boise High School’s 1936 gym is in the middle of a big remodeling and expansion. The project has turned up a couple of surprises, including two paintings of Indian braves in bold red, white and black — the school’s colors.

Crews were able to salvage one of the paintings by cutting it out of its lathe-and-plaster wall. The other painting was too damaged to save, Principal Robb Thompson said.

“Once we get the new facility built, we will figure out how to display it,” Thompson said. “It’s not something we would currently use.”

Boise High students are still known as the Braves, but the school has phased out imagery portraying Native American people. In 2016, the Boise School District painted over a mural on the gym’s western wall that depicted an Indian man carrying a tomahawk and knife. The school has been using a new logo, a “feathered B” similar to a feathered U used by the University of Utah.

The portraits were found behind a trophy cabinet near the gym’s 8th Street entrance. Thompson thinks they were probably painted in the 1940s. They’re signed by the artist, “R. Brown.” Nothing more is known about the artist, Thompson said. He welcomes a call from anyone in the community who may know more about R. Brown.

Other finds during the gym project include a few old uniforms from the 1980s and 1990s and a velcro Op-brand wallet lost by a student in the 1980s. The school’s resource officer was able to track down the student using ID cards inside the wallet.

The student still lives in the area and came to retrieve the wallet — filled, from an era that predated smart phones, with pictures of his friends.

“It was kind of a nostalgic moment,” Thompson said.

Do you know who R. Brown is?

Contact Boise High Principal Robb Thompson, 1010 W. Washington St., Boise, ID 83702 or 208-854-4270.

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