Sports Mascots–Lenawee County Schools

This is an older article from the Tecumseh Herald (I attended Tecumseh Elementary and Junior High–Tecumseh’s sports teams were called the Indians, and still are.):

By MICKEY ALVARADO

A petition to change Clinton High School’s Redskins mascot has been issued to the school superintendent, Dave Pray, by Elspeth and Kylista Geiger. In a letter to the editor in the Clinton Local last week, the two Clinton residents claimed that,“The use of the mascot produces derogatory images of people that arede-humanizing to entire nations of people within this country. The redskins as a mascot is a kin to celebrating the marginalization of American Indians and promoting the belief that they are not real people but characters for our amusement.”

Both the Michigan Civil Rights Commission (2002) and the Michigan State Board of Education (2003) passed resolutions to eliminate the use of a person’s race or culture as a school’s mascot, logo and nickname. Michigan’s State Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution “strongly recommending the elimination of American Indian nicknames, mascots or logos, fight songs, insignias, antics and team descriptors by Michigan public schools.”

Pray responded to the petition in a letter to the editor of the Clinton Local stating that the issue will be reviewed and the residents polled to see if the mascot should be changed. The petition will be available to sign at the superintendent’s office until November 1.

In the letter,Pray stated that proposed legislation at the state and federal level have failed and it is left up to individual institutions to determine to remain using or changing of a mascot.

“Before I take the petition to the board I want to know if the community wants to change the mascot,” said Prey.

The issued resolution by the State Board of Education was intended to guide the state’s public school districts to adopt policies that are consistent and in the best interest of all of the state’s students. The Board was hopeful that there solution encourages all school districts to be more sensitive of the diverse cultures among their student populations, and to set policies that are respectful of all students.

Pray finished his letter to the editor by stating that a petition will determine the outcome of the board’s decision. If a majority of Clinton’s residents determine that it should not be changed the issue will then proceed no further.

The passing of the Board’s resolution was not only for the American Indian community but was issued for all communities to recognize that when the race or culture of a group of people is used as mascots, logos, symbols or nicknames, it perpetuates stereotyping and insensitivity. The board stated that American Indian children are negatively impactedby the stereotypes, whether positive or negative, even if the intention of the school district is to honor the history of the American Indians. In plain terms the board let it be known to all school districts that the nicknames, logos and mascots undermine the safe and nurturing environment needed for academic achievement. Yet, there are still approximately 57 schools currently using American Indian mascots, logos or nicknames in Michigan, including Clinton’s Redskins and Tecumseh’s Indians. Both of the local mascots were specifically mentioned along with the Braves, Chiefs, Warriors, Reds and Redmen.

The board of Education was clear in its resolution, recommending the promotion of accurate, fair and appropriate depictions of all peoples’ cultures and histories.However, the 57 schools refusing to change their mascots include titles of Indians (27 schools) Warriors (15) Chiefs (6), Braves (4) and Redskins (4).

To contact Pray,email david.pray@clinton.k12.mi.us [1] or call 456.6501. The petition is located at the superintendent/board office at 341 E. Michigan Ave.