Education | Opinion

Wenona Singel: Racist mascot found at schools in many states

The 1994 yearbook describes the Paw Paw High School in Paw Paw, Michigan, as "Our Tribe" and features an image of an Indian man. A page inside discusses the offensive nature of the school's mascot. Subsequent yearbooks have played down the Indian theme. Image from Paw Paw Wappaw

California may have just outlawed the use of a racist mascot in public schools but professor Wenona T. Singel, a member of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, finds plenty of examples elsewhere, including a cluster in Michigan:
California and Oregon aside, there remain 21 states representing 58 high schools in the U.S. that use Redskins as a team name or mascot. These schools are marked on the map below. Many more schools throughout the U.S. use other Indian mascots, such as Indians, Warriors, Braves, and Chieftans.

Interestingly, the area of lower Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have the highest concentration public high schools using the name Redskins, constituting nearly half of the schools on the map. This “Redskins Belt” includes six Michigan high schools.

Past efforts to ban the use of Native American mascots throughout the state of Michigan have been unsuccessful. In 2013, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights on behalf of all present and future students who self-identify as American Indians, alleging that thirty-five schools in Michigan engage in the continued use of American Indian mascots, names, nicknames, logos, and other imagery, creating a hostile environment and denying equal rights to all current and future American Indian students.

Get the Story:
Wenona Singel: A Look at the New California Law Banning Public Schools from using the term Redskins (Turtle Talk 10/14)

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