January 7 2017
Jillian Kay Melchior
A Michigan Native American tribe plans soon to offer cash to help K-12 schools, public and private and universities, and municipalities replace Indian mascots.
A recent state tally found 35 K-12 schools in Michigan had Native American-themed mascots, including the Indians, the Warriors, the Redskins, the Chiefs, the Big Reds, the Redskins, the Chieftains and the Braves.
The Notawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi says they’d be the first tribe in the United States to help offset the costs of replacing the mascots.
That replacement process can be expensive, a tribal spokeswoman said. For instance, a school may have to change everything from gym floors to athletic uniforms to band equipment to official letterhead to its website.
Funding for these changes would come from the newly established Native American Heritage Fund, which will begin each year with $500,000 in its account. The money comes from state taxes on slot-machine revenue from the tribal Fire Keepers Casino in Battle Creek.
In 2013, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights unsuccessfully called for the Department of Education to prohibit the use of Indian mascots, names, slogans, chants and imagery.
The complaint, which was ultimately dismissed, argued that the use of these mascots “reinforces stereotypes in a way that negatively impacts the potential for achievement by students with American Indian ancestry” and “creates a hostile environment.”
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.