OT - State files federal complaint against schools with Native American mascots

Submitted by Cold War on February 11th, 2013 at 7:44 PM

A complaint filed Friday by the Michigan Department of Civil Rights is asking the federal government to step in and prohibit the use of American Indian mascots and imagery in K-12 schools across the state.

The department filed the complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. The complaint cites 35 Michigan K-12 school districts — including Clinton and Tecumseh — responsible for “alleged discrimination.”

The schools are known as the Clinton Redskins and the Tecumseh Indians.

The complaint says research now shows the use of those mascots and imagery causes “actual harm” to American Indian students by lowering self-esteem and impacting student achievement...


Mod edit: I think most viewpoints were heard and there was a good debate on some topics, but we've hit a point of no return with the political line. JGB



February 11th, 2013 at 8:02 PM ^

I think that's dumb and nitpicky. I can understand people theoretically getting upset about it, but I also think those people are likely too sensitive, and their time would be better spent solving real problems in the Native American community.


February 11th, 2013 at 8:48 PM ^

Such as:





I am originally from Mt. Pleasant and have nothing but bad things to say about the gaming industry that has magnified all of the above.  (among natives and non-natives alike mind you, but driving through the res is not a pretty sight) 


February 11th, 2013 at 9:03 PM ^

I'm currently attending CMU and although there has been an uptick in crime in the past few months, none of it had anything to do with the tribe or with the Casino.  It has been white people who live around and outside Mt. Pleasant.  Having a major University that has over 26,000 students probably has more to do with that than the Res does.


February 11th, 2013 at 8:04 PM ^

should not be a team name, at any level.  No league would allow a team name like the Wetbacks, Kikes, or N***ers, so why should we allow a team like the Redskins?  It's the same level of derogatory terminology.  Who cares if it is tradition?  Why would you want to celebrate that tradition?  "Yay, we're racist and we don't care!  Woohoo go us!"

I'm fully supportive of the NCAA's rules:  you need the permission of the specific tribe you're named after in order to use that mascot.  If the tribe doesn't want you using their name, then you can't use it.  Using derogatory terms for a team name, not even a specific tribe - definitely not okay.


February 11th, 2013 at 8:21 PM ^

Deadspin had a piece on the Washington Redskins' name today actually, because of a statement by the team on the name:


Only way I see the NFL team change their name would be if public pressure got a whole lot stronger than it is now.  But for state level schools, it is an easy fix, they aren't billion dollar enterprises.

swan flu

February 11th, 2013 at 8:20 PM ^

It's very likely that most of that 90% is unfamiliar with the origins and meaning of that term. It is a flawed poll. I could ask ou if the term inyezi was derogatory and/or offensive, but it is not a valid Heston without providing you the background that makes it offensive.

Btw, inyezi is a derogatory term the Hutu used to call the Tutsi during the Rawandan genocide. It's very offensive.


February 11th, 2013 at 8:23 PM ^

in the time back when the team was named, that was a far stronger derogatory term compared to today.  the term has been diluted over the years simply due to the frequency in which it is used in a positive way to refer to the NFL team.


For the record, I'm caucasian, and I have no horse in this race, I just don't support racism.

Frito Bandito

February 11th, 2013 at 8:05 PM ^

Native Americans have nothing to complain about these days so this will have to do. A couple of my friends get a check every month from their tribe's casino and a free education to boot. Why complain?

swan flu

February 11th, 2013 at 8:30 PM ^

Irrelevant. Your original point is that it's cushy to be a Native American because 1 guy you know gets some money from a casino. You seem hyperbolic and rash in your conclusion making.

Edit- you also presented a straw man argument, which I will not respond to because it is not the point I was making.


February 11th, 2013 at 9:05 PM ^

That's like saying, "there are affirmative action programs, so black Americans have NOTHING to complain about."

SOME Native Americans have programs of which they can take advantage. But Native Americans writ large experience huge levels of poverty, unemployment, substance abuse, lack of education, infant mortality, and about 50 other measures of having life not suck.


February 11th, 2013 at 8:39 PM ^

Comments like this are the best endorsements available for the return of true neg-bangs.

Idiotic statements like this make it impossible for people to have genuine, reasonable discussions about the value of current reparative and remedial policies directed toward Native Americans. Someone who is well-meaning but thinks that some of the current cultural and political systems directed toward that community may be harmful or counterproductive simply cannot have a reasonable conversation about it with trolls saying things like what you're saying. And people who want to increase reparative or remedial programs is reduced, literally, to arguing about name-calling than addressing actual problems or issues.

For that reason, I believe it is just as likely that you are a troll deliberately trying to sabotage someone's legitimate arguments as someone who is actually stupid enough to post the statements you are posting.


February 11th, 2013 at 8:08 PM ^

This totally breaks the no politics rule, but since the thread exists I'll say how I feel.  

Native Americans have a huge role in the history of our state (as well as many others) and they are memorialized in two major ways today - casinos and sports team mascots.  The former certainly doesn't give them a good name, but they don't care because it makes them money.  The second one actually glorifies them.  Schools don't pick mascots to make fun of them, they pick them to represent their school or team in a positive way.  Schools and teams pick something that is either representative of victory (Spartans, Trojans, etc), or of the territory (Hoosiers, Buckeyes, etc).  Sometimes it's both, like a Wolverine.  Or a Native American.  

Saying your team is the Chippewas or the Fighting Sioux doesn't degrade Native Americans, it represents the history of the area.  Are the Dutch in Holland upset about Holland High's or Hope College's mascot?  Or the Irish of Notre Dame's?  Caledonia High School is the Fighting Scots and Hastings is the Saxons, but I don't see anyone up in arms about that.  

M Fanfare

February 11th, 2013 at 8:19 PM ^

It's all about context. If teams in England were going by the "Fighting Irish" and using leprechaun mascots, you don't think the Irish would be pissed about that, given the history between those two countries?

These aren't Native Americans using these team names. These are other cultures appropriating theirs for their own use. Given the history of the Indian Wars and the United States' historical treatment and mistreatment of Native Americans, schools should say away from Indian mascots.

Michigan Arrogance

February 11th, 2013 at 8:45 PM ^



Saying your team is the Chippewas or the Fighting Sioux doesn't degrade Native Americans, it represents the history of the area. Are the Dutch in Holland upset about Holland High's or Hope College's mascot?  Or the Irish of Notre Dame's?  Caledonia High School is the Fighting Scots and Hastings is the Saxons,

this seems reasonable, but I still come back to the fact that white people are taking ownership of *another culture's* cultural identity/symbolism & they have no right to do so.

I guess I'd respond by saying ...you don't get much of a say in what does and does not degrade the Native American culture, unless you're native american.


February 11th, 2013 at 9:49 PM ^

What defines someone as "part of that culture" is not Bly pertinent, but a must if you're going to make such blanket statement judgements. Otherwise you're going to get a few people saying what's best for a lot who don't necessarily agree with them.

Or you could just come up with a better argument that "if you aren't it, you can't talk about it." That's only a step above "if you're not a coach you can't question what he does."


February 11th, 2013 at 8:12 PM ^

I feel like a distinction should be made between different types of names here.  Anecdotally, at least, it seems like names that refer to specific tribes (e.g., Chippewas, Seminoles) don't seem to cause that much offense, whereas names like "Redskins" - which depict Native Americans from a white person's perspective - cause a lot more.  All the "Red" names should probably go, but I don't know about the specific tribal names.  Some tribes seem to regard it as an honor.

And then there are names like Chiefs, Braves, Warriors . . . these seem like they'd be too generic to really offend anyone.  I never even thought of Warriors as a Native American name at all for a long time.



February 11th, 2013 at 9:52 PM ^

For the tribal names, it comes down to consent. If the tribal governments agree, then I think it's ok.

One of the recurring features of American Indian history has been the attempt of others to attempt to speak for Indians, to claim that they have their best interests at heart, to "glorify" them, to protect them, etc: anthropologists, Indian agents, traders, politicians, good samaritans, authors, filmmakers and so on. At best, these attempts have been done in consultation with the people they represent, and have allowed Indians to participate in their own representation. All too often they have come from a place of ignorance of actual Indian peoples and their experiences, whom have found that the overwhelming noise of those speaking for them drowns out their ability to speak.

The past fifty years of Indian political life have involved the slow progress of demands that Indian voices be heard in terms of sovereignty and self-government, legal treaty protections, and artistic expression. Gaining Indian consent about team names is part of this process. Since tribal names are the only thing that Indian people can give consent on, through elected tribal governments, I think the rest should go.

no joke its hoke

February 11th, 2013 at 8:11 PM ^

As a life long Washington Redskins fan this comes up with them a lot of course. The one aspect that never gets brought to light by most media is the thousands of American Indians that take great pride in schools and sports teams that have Indians as mascots. if I can find the article from a few years back in I believe the Washington Post I'll post it here,of countless Indians that spoke up on this side of the argument .