Ban sought on American Indian mascots in schools

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights filed a complaint Friday with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, asking to ban the use of American Indian mascots and imagery in K-12 school because it denies equal rights to American Indian students.
AP Wire
Feb 9, 2013


Supporters say the mascots are a way to celebrate American Indian history and traditions and preserve the group's culture. But according to the complaint, new evidence suggests the use of the mascots "reinforces stereotypes," negatively impacting American Indian students' self-esteem, student learning and achievement.

The complaint cites 35 Michigan school districts "responsible for the alleged discrimination." However, a federal ruling for the Michigan department could have broader reach, spurring a nationwide ban on the use of such mascots and imagery in school districts that receive federal funds.

Daniel Levy, the director of law and policy for MDCR, wrote in the complaint that recent studies now provide a "legal basis" to prohibit the use of American Indian imagery and mascots by proving the mascots cause "actual harm" to American Indian students.

Previously, the only way to make a legal case against the use of the mascots was to prove harassment, Director of Public Affairs for MDCR Leslee Fritz said. The department either had to show bad intention on the part of the school or that the use of the mascot is "universally offensive" — "a difficult thing to do," she said.

Last year, the Oregon Board of Education banned the use of American Indian mascots in the state, citing the research as "key" in their decision.

Mark Dombroksi, superintendent for the Cheboygan Area School District, said he believes the district has used the "chiefs" mascot since the schools opened in the late 1890s. He said the community is heavily populated by American Indians and called the mascot a "sense of pride to the local community."

U.S. Department of Education spokesman Jim Bradshaw said the Office of Civil Rights has received the complaint and referred it to the Cleveland office, which handles matters involving Michigan. He said the office has not yet reviewed the document.

Fritz said the department chose to file the complaint at the federal level "to help every student at one time."

Michigan districts with American Indian mascots:

Athens Area Schools

Bay City Public Schools

Belding Area Schools

Birmingham Brother Rice

Woodhaven Brownstown School District

Camden-Frontier School District

Capac Community Schools

Cheboygan Area School District

Chesaning Union Schools

Chippewa Valley Schools

Clinton Community Schools

Dowagiac Union Schools

Gladstone Area Public Schools

Grass Lake Community Schools

Hartford Public Schools

North Huron School District

JW Sexton High School, Lansing School District

Marquette Area Public Schools

Morley Stanwood Community Schools

Huron School District

Tahquamenon Area Schools

Paw Paw Public School District

Plymouth-Canton Community Schools

Port Huron Area School District

Chippewa Hills School District

Sandusky Community Schools

Saranac Community Schools

Saugatuck Public Schools

Tawas Area Schools

Tecumseh Public Schools

Tekonsha Community Schools

Utica Community Schools

Walled Lake Consolidated School District

White Cloud School District

White Pigeon Community Schools




As a descendant of pirates, I am hurt deeply by the use of pirate mascots which “reinforce negative stereotypes”, causing me “actual harm”. It negatively impacts my self-esteem, learning and achievement.


I feel your pain. I'm Irish - and Notre Dame continues their hateful, blatently stereotypical description of my lineage by calling themselves "The Fighting Irish." Now that this has poured salt into my open wounds, I need some Bailey's.


Ey matey, my cousin the Viking and I have put aside our love of sports and taken up knitting. It’s all too painful to be a part of.


As a taxpayer of Fruitport, I am deeply hurt that my beloved athletic team is referred to as the same name as condoms. It also negatively impacts my self esteem, learning, and achievement.


You both need to grow up....WISEONE named after a condom hurst your self esteem, learning and achievemnt.... SANDYPANTS you to.....please can both of you or please at least one of you please explain how the name pirates and trojans does this to you. this should be good, im ready for a good glad theres only a few of you escaped pine rest patients that never got caught....I hope this does not pass.....lets quit wasting tax dollar money on stupid things like this in the courts and politicians.....let me guess next it will be racist. Right?


stay in school ;)


exactly you have no explanation.

Back to the Wall

You have no education.




I agree with Sandypants and Wiseone.

retired DOC

What else should a school in Chippewa Valley or Chippewa Hills or Huron Valley call themselves? Going to change the names of the Hills and Vallies? Whats next no more Fighting Irish or Spartans? It makes people from Ireland and Greece feel bad.


JVC if you agree with them, please express to us how this effects your self esteem, learning and achievement...


On behalf of those folks of American Indian descent who feel their self-esteem, learning, and achievement are negatively impacted by schools that use Indian names/symbols in an athletic setting, think how much worse it must be to live in a whole County that harms them in the same manner. Ottawa County, the very name raises the specter of geographic racism over many square miles, not just the dimensions of a football field. ( Name Origin: For the Ottawa Indians, a tribe of Algonquian linguistic stock whose name is derived from adawe 'to trade.')

Maybe we can enhance self esteem by changing this racist name to "IP County." Indigenous Peoples still pays homage to the Native Americans who lived here without any unfortunate connotations. Instead of Yupers we can be "Ipee-ers", trading yellow for red as the color of choice.

Hope yourin to this solution. Unfortunately the Michigan Department of Civil Rights won't agree, once they learn that their name is derived from the Chippewa Indian word "meicigama" meaning great water - maybe they'll go along with IP if we change "great water" to "make water." Just trying to help.


What a clever devil's advocate!




I hear the animals are next. The dogs, cats, lions, tigers, bear...etc..etc are getting a slush fund together becasue they know those bottom feeders from the ACLU will take anybody's money


Whatajoke. It's called SARCASM.

Walking Alive

Whatajoke picked the correct name. lol

deuce liti

I'm not an American Indian so I cannot relate to how this may or may not make an oppressed minority feel. It sounds like most of you can though. However, if you were to name some team The Slavetraders or the like, I think I could begin to understand. I know this is an unrealistic comparrison, but empathy begins somewhere even in this apathetic world.


if a white person where to complain about this it would be considered racist.. as long as your not white its ok to try and get years/decades of sport mascots and/or names changed. Lets wake up people this is a joke and total nonsense...whats next coca cola gonna have to change name of the pop COKE since there is a drug named that. This country is goin down hill fast..


Ok Whatajoke you talked about "years/decades of sports mascots did you know the history of the mascots?
The most common mascot names are: Eagles, Tigers, Cougars, Bulldogs, Warriors, Lions, Panthers, Indians, Wildcats, and Bears. While Bulldogs are not seen as prey, they are seen as determined and feisty animals. All the rest of the names on that list, 9 out of 10, have been hunted. Native people were hunted and bounty was paid for them. No other race appears as a mascot name, because no other race was hunted. People hang animal heads in their dens and Indian heads in their gymnasiums


LOL HAHA really? I couldnt tell you when i seen a real indian head mounted in a gymnasiun. They are painted on the walls, not real mounts. Animal heads in dens are real mounts. If they were to mount real indian heads in gymnasiums i would understand until then this is all a giant joke. People need to start worrying about real problems. Please i want some one to tell how this effects there daily life with indians as mascots and or names for teams.Please tell.


Ok whatajoke, If you were a native American and grew up having people call you a redskin because they think it’s all right because a football team uses the name you might get it. How about I take a cross with Jesus on it paint it my school colors and run around the stadium then throw it in the back of a storage shed for keep until the next big game, of course that would offend all of the christens out there because I am using a cross with such disrespect. The same goes for dressing a person up as an Indian for the purpose of a school event….it is tasteless……


If you used a cross with your school colors on it thats fine with me. If you meant no harm buy it then use it. Its not like all these schools are out to hurt the indians are they? If you used a cross would you be out there to hurt all the religions out there? Was that your intentions? people need to quit whinning about it, get over themselves, if this is what you call problems to worry about in there life, then they need to find stuff to do rather than worry about this that does not intentional hurt anyone/ or go see a shrink and get help. what ever works for them!!!


Q. "Its not like all these schools are out to hurt the indians are they"
A.Yes they are hurting native Americans by perpetuating a stereotype.
Q."If you used a cross would you be out there to hurt all the religions out there?"
A.It does not matter my intent is when i am using the cross what matters is if it offends someone then its wrong.
If your intent is to not hurt anyone then why not get rid of the offensive masgots?


sirhansalot, I believe that your suggestion is a bit of a stretch. Christianity is a religion, not a race. What is it that you are comparing a cross with? A totem pole? ‘Cause totem poles are not traditionally religious symbols.


Sandypants, Native Americans do have religion and they use certain articles of clothing/ feathers ect..when they are preforming religious ceremonies. That being said having a person dress like an Indiana in headgear and feathers and carrying an axe is like having a person dressing like a priest or the pope running around with a cup of wine and bread and pretending to baptism people during the big game!!


Yur still reachin' matey. They do have religion, but simply being an Indian isn't a religion. Yur drivin' me to the comfort of me rum.


How ironic that the bastion of political correctness WASHINGTON DC still has Redskins as its NFL Football team. They want to take guns from law abiding citizens and give them to the mexican drug cartels for a fast and furious experiment. Priceless. They give fighter jets and and tanks to the new Egyptian regime whose new leader has pronounced Jews as decendants of pigs and apes. Unbelievable. Any dummy that voted for this socialist the first time I give a pass because they were duped by the media. Any dummy the second time? Move to Greece.


Getting back on the real topic, if the MDCR (who knows what that stands for) feels that native americans MIGHT feel disrespected by having their ancestory used in High School mascot names, I have one thing to say: Stop wasting my tax dollars! These special government projects do nothing except to perpetuate do-nothing jobs and to make people ultra-sensitive over nothing! Why not communicate like real people do. At Florida State, the University asked permission from the Seminole tribe to use their likeness and now the two are unmistakebly intertwined. C'mon man, its not that hard.



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