Several West Michigan Schools Named in Lawsuit over Native American Mascots

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Department of Civil Rights filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, on Friday asking the federal agency to issue an order prohibiting the continued use of Native American mascots. The lawsuit involves 35 schools in Michigan including several in West Michigan.

“A growing and unrebutted body of evidence now establishes that the use of American Indian imagery reinforces stereotypes in a way that negatively impacts the potential for achievement by students with American Indian ancestry,” the filing argues. “Continued use of American Indian mascots, names, nicknames, logos, slogans, chants and/or other imagery creates a hostile environment and denies equal rights to all current and future American Indian students and must therefore cease.”

West Michigan schools named in the filing include: Athens Indians, Belding Redskins, Dowagiac Chieftains, Hartford Indians, Morley-Stanwood Mohawks, Paw Paw Redskins, Remus Chippewa Hills Warriors, Saranac Redskins, Saugatuck Indians, Tekonsha Indians, White Cloud Indians, White Pigeon Chiefs.

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24 comments

  • Kevin

    didn't the Indians have a proud and traditional history? If you ask me using an Indian brave or a chief represents the good part of that.

  • PawPaw Dave_Mull

    I'm really surprised all the Irish people haven't spoken out about how the University of Notre Dame's mascot makes non-Irish people think of them as squirrelly little Leprechauns.

  • Shane

    Oh my……….just wait till till all the Hollanders in West Michigan go after Hope College for being the Flying Dutchman!!!! When will theses groups realize that the nickname is in HONOR, not as a negative!! What a joke and waste of time/money.

  • Annon1212

    Just because a cultural group once utilized terms like Paw Paw and Chippewa to identify oneself, does not entitle them to dictate terms for future use.

    Otherwise this precedent would allow for only a single individual to be named Smith, or Francine. Please consider that these school mascot names have been well established, and are rigorous to ensure that these names are glorified.

  • Mattawan George

    Just anothe exaple of to much government. It looks like the michigan Department of civil rights didn't have enough to do so they looked around to see what cause they can find to stay active when will our government learn that at some point a department serves no function and should be closed.

  • Angel

    I am loyal Chief and the name was chosen in honor of the local tribe that resided here many years ago. With all the many wrongs and evil in the world you would think people had more important things to pay attention to.

  • Donald

    The White Pigeon Chiefs are named after the village of where the school resides. White Pigeon Mi was names after an Indian chief , Wahbememe, that had run the entire distance to warn the village of an impending attack from a tribe from the Detroit area.

    So, how does this Continued use of American Indian mascots, names, nicknames, logos, slogans, chants and/or other imagery creates a hostile environment and denies equal rights to all current and future American Indian students?

  • Student

    So stupid, my schools name/mascout has been like that for over 35 years.. I struggle to find the bad in this situation – you’d think it’s a good thing..

  • Bob Short

    The Dowagiac Chieftains have a logo designed by a Potawatomi artist and an agreement with the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians to use the logo. This agreement was reached in 1990.

  • blainmommy11

    This is 100% silly, why change somethin after so may years. Not to mention… No one is thinking of it that way.. seriously… find somethin else to complain about..

  • Hartford Proud

    I am from Hartford. Our little city has many Native American families. We have an Indian casino, an Indian Cemetery and many elders of the Pokagon Band. It is an integral part of our history. I don’t see them protesting our games or school for a name change. In fact, they are very involved in our school system. All I have to say is GO INDIANS!!!!

  • lee

    im from dowagiac whats next… change the name of the town now too…
    because that might be offensive too…come on ppl think of better things to spend our money on….

  • Cheifs Forever

    So is White Pigeon supposed to change the name of their town in which was named in HONOR of Chief White Pigeon…………………really this whole racial sensitivity has gotten way out of hand. Just a bunch of lawyers with nothing to do.

  • tribe member

    Someone has too much time on their hands. Just want to rant. as a Native American, i dont see why there is a problem. I think someone has gotten some authority, not they wanna see how much useless crap they can change until someone realizes how rediculous they are being and stops them.

    miigwetch. A ticked off tribal member.

  • Lynn

    My kids go to Saranac schools so this will affect them. I have a friend who is an Indian and he says its an honor to have those mascots. I think all the Indians should call/ write in to the Department of Civil Rights and put up a major stink about this stupid lawsuit


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