Native American Heritage Fund granting nearly $500K to remove racist mascot imagery 

The money will be shared by four Michigan school districts to pay for new uniforms and to eliminate logos that reinforce racist stereotypes.

The Native American Heritage Fund announced last month that it would grant $480,000 to be shared among four Michigan school districts to eliminate imagery depicting racist stereotypes of indigenous people. 

According to The Detroit Free Press, Chippewa Hills School District, Hartford Public Schools, Lansing School District and Saranac Community Schools will all get a portion of the funds. The money will be used for things like new school uniforms and changing signage that reinforces stereotypes. 

Okemos High School and principal Christine Sermak are shown in Lansing, Michigan, where the mascot is Chieftains. Lansing School District is receiving funds from the Native American Heritage Fund to eliminate racist imagery of indigenous people. (Photo: Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC)

“If we fund the decommissioning of racist mascot imagery now, we will have more money in the future for proactive program and curriculum programming,” said Jamie Stuck, chairperson of the Native American Heritage Fund and chairperson for the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi, in a press release.

The Free Press notes that over the past two years, other school districts have started the process of changing mascots, chants and logos — some with the support of other NAHF funds. 

A former Michigan student noted that there has been some pushback on the proposed changes.

“There was always a very strong sense of, this is who we are as a community and this is what will always be,” said Allie Alt, a 2019 graduate of Saranac Junior/Senior High School, who believes that change is necessary. “It feels very regressive and [like] holding on to something that should be let go.” 

Superintendent Bob Grover told The Freep that the Chippewa Hills logo art imagery will be altered from a Native American warrior to a knight. That decision was made following a 2018 meeting with the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe.

His school district has been granted $52,371 to rebrand. As for the others, Hartford is set to receive $134,249, Lansing will get $87,500 and Saranac is slated for $139,319, The Freep reported.

“The answer is yes, we’re going to change,” Grover said. “So we’re not going to have big meetings to talk about that. If you don’t like that, then I’m sorry, but it’s the right thing to do.”

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