Schools in Michigan are receiving funds with the sole purpose to change racist school mascots depicting stereotypes of Native Americans.
Schools across the nation are rebranding school mascots in an effort to do away with racial imagery. Most of this applies to Native Americans and schools that used Indian mascots, war chiefs, and tribal feathers for logos. In Michigan, many schools are now receiving money to fund the effort to rid public schools of this hateful symbolism.
The Detroit Free Press reports that a number of schools will receive funds in the coming months to pay for this massive overhaul to erase malicious imagery and change school mascots. Those who may possibly be opposed to taxpayer funds fronting the bill for this endeavor can rest assured, as The Native American Heritage Fund (NAHF) will be donating the money to do so. Everything from school uniforms, logo prints, and paint to cover up gymnasium floors will be covered.
Up to $480,000 will be sent to schools throughout the state where stereotypical depictions of indigenous people are still the center of school pride. Chippewa Hills which did away with their Native American warrior school mascot last year will receive $52,000 for changes. In Hartford, school leaders voted to change their long-standing Indian mascot late this past school year. They will receive $134,000 to do so. And in Saranac, board members just recently voted to replace a district mascot from the Redskins with the Red Hawks, in which they will receive nearly $140,000 for amendments.
Jamie Stuck, chairperson for the NAHF relayed how vital he and other members felt it was to relay funds for these changes now so that the organization could focus on more important initiatives in the future that center around curriculum progression. Board members chose how they would portion the funds to the districts, depending on the stage each school was at in its efforts to erase stereotypical school mascots. This isn’t the first effort seen in Michigan to rebrand logos and imagery, as even more schools have already enacted changes to eliminate racist mascots within the past few years – much of which was made possible from previous NAHF grants.
For quite some time now, there has been a growing call to remove Native American school mascots coined offensive by many tribes throughout America. One University of Michigan study found that more than half of respondents believed school mascots that implement chief headdresses in some form are offensive. What’s more, not all indigenous tribes regard them as traditional, and many vary in style and use. Part of the reason these logos are viewed as racist is that they often paint a false picture of the history of these people, undermining their culture. Furthermore, it is said to send a hateful message to young students.
Because of the treatment of Native Americans throughout the years, removing racist school mascots is just one of the many ways leaders are recognizing the wrongdoings of society throughout the decades. Likewise, states are implementing new rulings to increase Native American enrollment in colleges and universities, which has long been low. Some states are even making college free for indigenous students. All this is being done in a greater effort to further equity and make amends for years of negligence and racial bias.