Michigan Department of Civil Rights seeks to ban American Indian mascots, says it negatively impacts student achievement
The Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) filed a complaint Friday with the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights (OCR), asking the federal agency to issue an order prohibiting the continued use American Indian mascots, names and other imagery, asserting that it negatively impacts student learning, according to a Michigan Newswire release Feb. 8.
The complaint, which names 35 Michigan high schools and school districts, says the use of such imagery is in violation of Article VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The filing states that a growing body of research shows the use of American Indian imagery does cause harm by reinforcing stereotypes that negatively impacts the potential for achievement by students with American Indian ancestry.
“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.”
Specifically, the MDCR wants the OCR to order the following:
- The use of American Indian mascots, names, terms, graphics and/or other imagery (particularly those which portray stereotypical Indian images as warriors), will not be permitted in primary or secondary educational institutions that receive federal funds, with few exceptions,
- The term “Redskins” has historically been used as a racial slur, and for this reason carries particularly negative connotations that accentuate the negative impact of associated stereotypes. Use of the term as a team name by primary or secondary educational institutions that receive federal funds is always impermissible,
- Where limited uses of images, particularly the use of names of locally significant tribes or tribal persons with tribal support for doing so, can be done in a way that is respectful and which does not reinforce any singular limiting image of Indian Peoples, they may be continued, but only within guidelines provided by OCR and,
- The use of American-Indian names and/or imagery by each of the schools named in this complaint falls within the impermissible uses described above and must cease.