High school logos at center of controversy, again

(Sandusky) – A renewed move is on to reconsider the use of Native American logos for school mascots. The issue was brought to light several years ago and from time to time, is brought to the forefront to see if any changes are warranted. Sandusky school district is among those that will potentially take a look at the use of the Redskin logo and see what, if any, changes will be made. Sandusky, along with Port Huron High (Big Reds) and Capac (Chiefs) districts that use Native Americans in their mascot names and imagery.

Should these districts choose to move away from using Native American imagery, a new source of funding is available to help in that process. Sandusky Superintendent Michael Carmean said the district has had very little discussion in changing the mascot name from the Redskins and there has not been much community feedback about it.

“I believe our students and community really don’t do anything to harm the Native American population,” Carmean said. “But I do believe that this needs to be looked at. And the money provided would certainly be a huge help if Sandusky elects to pursue.”

Carmean said the last time the district had discussion about changing the mascot was when the Michigan Department of Civil Rights filed a complaint in 2013 alleging that the use of Native American mascots, imagery and chants could hurt potential success of Native American students. The complaint, which targeted a number of districts including Port Huron, Sandusky and Capac, was dropped.

On Dec. 12, the federal government approved an amendment to the tribal gaming compact between Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi and the state of Michigan. Tribal gaming compacts are written agreements that put rules around casino gambling and provide for revenue sharing payments from the tribes to the state.

According to media sources, the change allows for the allocation of $500,000 of state revenue sharing payments to the newly created Michigan Native American Heritage Fund. The fund, which will be managed by a board of state and tribal representatives, will be used to award money to local governments, private and public schools, colleges and universities to promote positive relationships with Michigan’s Indian tribes and Native Americans. Some of the projects this fund could help cover include the cost of replacing or revising mascots or imagery that could be considered offensive to Native Americans