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Published On: Sun, Feb 10th, 2013

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.

Macomb County, Michigan  Image/ David Benbennick

Image/ David Benbennick

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.

 

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He regularly writes about infectious disease news for Examiner.com and administers the Outbreak News section of The Global Dispatch.

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  1. SPORADICALLY, FROM 1983 TO 1990, I WAS A STUDENT AT, Arkansas State University. OUR MASCOT WAS A BARE-CHESTED MALE INDIAN WIELDING A TOMAHAWK. I MISS THAT “INDIAN;” AND, AS AN ALUMNUS, I CAN NO LONGER PURCHASE SPORTSWEAR/MEMORABILIA EMBLAZONED WITH HIS IMAGE. [Because of this, I ignore the university's constant requests for alumnus donations; taking away that "Indian," destroyed my emotional connection to that time in my life].

    UNFORTUNATELY, FOR NORTH-AMERICAN NATIVES, THEY WERE CONQUERED BY CAUCASIANS. THESE NATIVES’ PLIGHT WAS DIFFERENT FROM THE PLIGHT OF NEGRO SLAVES BECAUSE NATIVES QUICKLY “BACKED-OFF,” AND ALLOWED CAUCASIANS TO “HOUSE” THEM ON RESERVATIONS. FURTHERMORE, THESE DISENFRANCHISED NATIVES HAD NO WORTHY LEADERSHIP TO “RALLY” FOR CIVIL JUSTICE. SO, THIS SITUATION IS THE REASON WHY NATIVES HAVE BECOME THE “FORGOTTEN COLOREDS” IN THIS NATION.

    NEGROES HAVE STRENGTH OF HISTORY AND CAUCASIAN GUILT; HISPANICS HAVE STRENGTH OF NUMBERS. BUT, NATIVES, HAVE NOTHING.

    CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON

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