A NEW MASCOT FOR MAPS

Over the past several years, many K-12 districts across the country have retired the use of Indigenous mascots, logos, and nicknames.

In honoring our mission to provide a learning environment supportive of ALL students, we have been learning about and and discussing the Manistee Area Public School District’s mascot, the Chippewa.

We believe that, as a community, we need to recognize the importance of moving away from the use of a school mascot that could be harmful to any person or culture and choose a new mascot that respectfully represents ALL MAPS students.

We have created this page to share our learning, to answer questions, and to showcase the work being done to select a new district mascot.

What are we doing?

MAPS will be retiring the Chippewa mascot during the 2022-23 school year and will be selecting a new mascot to represent the class of 2024 and beyond.

Why are we doing this?

Although it is not easy to make this change, we recognize the importance of adopting a school mascot that ensures that ALL students are represented respectfully.

How will the new mascot be chosen?

A student committee will learn with us about the mascot retirement process and will use their learning and community feedback to recommend a new mascot for Board approval.

When will this happen?

  • September – Community Forum
  • Sept/Oct – Student Advisory Committee learning effort
  • October – Students present findings to Board of Ed
  • Nov-Feb – Students lead community feedback effort
  • Feb/Mar– New mascot recommendation to Board of Ed
  • If adopted, March/August – New mascot creation
  • New Mascot Introduction – August 2023
Student Advisory Commitee

Student Advisory Committee

The Student Advisory Committee members have been selected. The students serving on this committee will work with the MAPS Board of Education Student Success Committee to learn about the process for choosing a new mascot and the collection of ideas to present to the Board of Education for approval.

The committee members are:

  • Isabella Cramer – 10th
  • Owen Heintzleman – 9th
  • Jazlyn Madsen – 12th
  • Kaleb Shoemate – 11th
  • Connelly Theummel – 12th
  • Valerie Wagner – 9th
  • Clear Wang – 9th
  • Madalyn Wayward – 9th (not pictured)

Questions & Answers

Pride in our district is so much more than the Chippewa mascot. Our legacy as students, staff, alumni, and community lives in our relationships and accomplishments. 

Although we agree it is not easy to let go of a mascot that has been a part of our district for many years, we understand the importance of moving away from the use of a mascot that can be harmful to any person or culture.

Below are answers to questions about the purpose of this work.

How was the Chippewa mascot chosen?

In April of 1930 a local newspaper held a contest and students voted for the mascot of their choice. The Chippewa mascot was chosen as the winner with 297 votes, with the Eagles being the second choice with 94 votes.  Later, we learned that the selection was based upon a misunderstanding of the tribal representation of our region.

MORE INFORMATION…..

The Chippewa mascot was selected in 1930 before we understood the offensive and detrimental nature of the use of Native American imagery. During the 1930s, the local newspaper held a contest for students to name the high school mascot with Chippewa winning the popular vote. This was an effort improve the competitive nature of a newly developed division for regional sports competition between schools.  Previously, Manistee was represented with the colors blue and gold, but did not have a mascot.

Historian James McClurken, author of Our People, Our Journey, a landmark history of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, speaking at a Manistee County Library program in 2010 , explained about the selection of the mascot that “due to the invisibility of the Ottawa, a lot of non-tribal people were unaware that the tribe even existed and believed the area was inhabited by Chippewa Indians.”

Manistee is actually home to the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians (LRBOI). In the tribal language, they are the “Anishnaabek” people, not a Tribe of the Chippewa Indians.  The Anishinaabek are the original peoples of the Great Lakes region. The Anishinaabe people form the Three Fires Confederacy of the Ojibwe (also called the Chippewa), the Odawa (also called the Ottawa) and the Bode’wadimi (also called the Pottawadimi). All these tribes are present in the current State of Michigan. The word Chippewa is not an Anishinabemowin (Anishinaabe language) word but a French word for Ojibwe.

What is the harm in keeping our mascot?

 The use of Native American images for school mascots shows disrespect to Native American culture.

MORE INFORMATION……

In 1968, the National Congress of American Indians began an educational campaign to end the era of harmful ‘Indian’ mascots. In their words, “rather than honoring Native peoples, these caricatures and stereotypes are harmful, perpetuate negative stereotypes of America’s first peoples, and contribute to a disregard for the personhood of Native peoples.” The use of offensive stereotypical images of Native Americans for school mascots further perpetuates the disrespect shown to their culture.

Supporting Research:

Stephanie A. Fryberg, Ph.D., University Diversity and Social Transformation Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan, participated in a 2020 study, The psychosocial effects of Native American mascots: a comprehensive review of empirical research findings, for the purpose of providing educational decision-makers with a comprehensive review of research on the psychosocial effects of Native American mascots. The research suggests:

  • The mascots are psychologically detrimental to Native American students.
  • For non-Native persons, the mascots are associated with negative stereotypes of Native Americans.
  • The mascots undermine intergroup relations by increasing negative stereotyping of Native Americans.
  • Supporters of these mascots are more apt to believe prejudicial ideas.

In another research study in 2010, Of Warrior Chiefs and Indian Princesses: The Psychological Consequences of American Indian Mascots, Fryberg and her colleagues examined the consequences of American Indian Mascots on the self-concept of American Indian students and suggest, “ American Indian mascots are harmful because they remind American Indians of the limited ways others see them and, in this way, constrain how they can see themselves.”

In 2018 the Oneida Indian Nation commissioned a research report by Dr. Michael A. Friedman, Ph.D., The Harmful Psychological Effects of the Washington Football Mascot. This article details the negative effects mascots have on the mood and self-esteem of Native American youth and on non-Native Americans’ views of Native Americans specifying that “Not only does the use of this slur risk causing direct damage to the mental and physical health of our country’s Native American population, it also puts us all at risk for both participating in and being harmed by ongoing prejudice.”

 

Isn’t the use of the Chippewa name a tribute to the Indigenous People of Manistee?

The use of Native American sports mascots in schools creates an incorrect understanding of Native American culture and is harmful to the self-esteem of Native American Youth. Additionally, Manistee is actually home to the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, not the Chippewa Indian Tribe, which is located near Mount Pleasant and in Standish.

MORE INFORMATION…..

A survey conducted by the American Psychological Association in 2005 cited ” the harmful effects of racial stereotyping and inaccurate racial portrayals, including the particularly harmful effects of American Indian sports mascots on the social identity development and self-esteem of American Indian young people.”

According to Stephanie Fryberg, PhD, the use of inaccurate racial profiles appears to have a negative impact on the self-esteem of American Indian children, “American Indian mascots are harmful not only because they are often negative, but because they remind American Indians of the limited ways in which others see them. This in turn restricts the number of ways American Indians can see themselves.”

The use of American Indian mascots:

  • Undermines the ability of American Indian Nations to portray accurate and respectful images of their culture, spirituality, and traditions. Many American Indians report that they find today’s typical portrayal of American Indian culture disrespectful and offensive to their spiritual beliefs.
  • Presents stereotypical images of American Indians. Such mascots are a contemporary example of prejudice by the dominant culture against racial and ethnic minority groups.
  • Is a form of discrimination against American Indian Nations that can lead to negative relations between groups.

American Psychological Association

In 2005, The American Psychological Association called for the immediate retirement of all American Indian mascots, symbols, images and personalities by schools, colleges, universities, athletic teams and organizations.  The APA based its position on a growing body of social science literature that shows the harmful effects of racial stereotyping and inaccurate portrayals, including the particularly harmful effects of American Indian sports mascots on the social identity development and self-esteem of American Indian young people. https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/indian-mascots

Are all Native American individuals/families offended by our mascot?

We understand that every individual has their own perspective on what they find offensive or acceptable. Not every Native American person is going to be offended by the use of the Chippewa mascot, even some that are living in our region or attending our schools.

However, because of what we have learned about the negative impact to the Native American culture at large, we feel responsible for retiring a mascot that perpetuates a negative stereotype and working toward creating representation of our district that is respectful to all individuals and cultures in our community, our state, and our country.

You can learn more about the negative impacts and mascot retirement initiatives in our resource section below.

 

Why are we doing this now?

Beginning in 1968, schools from around Michigan began to recognize the importance of retiring school mascots that were harmful to any people or culture. We have been learning about this work and now have a greater understanding of the damaging impact that our mascot can have on our students and community. Now is the time for us to work together to a find a new mascot for our district that is representative of all students. 

 

 

 

MORE INFORMATION…..

In honoring our mission to provide an inclusive educational environment for all students, we have been seeking insight and have engaged in discussions regarding the Manistee Area Public School District’s mascot, the Chippewa.  Over the past several years there have been initiatives across our country in K-12 districts, as well as professional sports teams, to retire the use of Indigenous mascots, logos, imagery, and nicknames.

Groups such as the National Congress of American Indians and the United Tribes of Michigan, have launched educational campaigns to end negative and harmful stereotypes of Indigenous People in the media and popular culture. Reports on the subject, cite that the use of these mascots perpetuates a stereotype of Indigenous culture that does not reflect diversity, but instead presents imagery that is primitive and warlike.

In 1968, the effort to replace indigenous mascots began when two schools retired their mascots: Unionville/Sebewaing High School, Indians to Patriots and Detroit Eastern High School (later renamed Dr. Martin Luther King Senior High School) American Indians to Crusaders. More recently, districts in our region, such as Belding, Petoskey, Saugatuck, and Hartford have also addressed the retirement of Indigenous mascots. In 2019, MHSAA reported that 44 high schools were still using nicknames and logos that depict these stereotypes, more recently there are 27.

Who is making MAPS change the mascot?

Manistee Area Public Schools made the decision to make this change without pressure from external individuals or groups. This has been a topic of consideration ever since the late 1990s when the Native American iconography was removed.

 

MORE INFORMATION…..

Over the past several years, there have been initiatives across the country in K-12 districts, as well as professional sports teams, to retire the use of Indigenous mascots, logos, imagery, and nicknames. Working on further development of inclusive educational environment for all students, our Student Success Committee has been seeking insight and has engaged in discussions regarding the Manistee Area Public School District’s mascot, the Chippewa. 

Groups such as the National Congress of American Indians and the United Tribes of Michigan, have launched educational campaigns to end negative and harmful stereotypes of Indigenous People in the media and popular culture. Reports on the subject, cite that the use of these mascots perpetuates a stereotype of Indigenous culture that does not reflect diversity, but instead presents imagery that is primitive and warlike. More information about these studies can be found in the resources section at the bottom of this page.

In recent years, districts in the region, such as Belding, Petoskey, Saugatuck, and Hartford have addressed the retirement of Indigenous mascots. In 2019, MHSAA reported that 44 high schools were still using Native American nicknames and logos that depict these stereotypes, more recently there are 27. Before long, there will be very few schools that have not engaged in this work. We are not the first, and certainly don’t want to be the last.

Although we understand it is not easy to let go of a mascot that has been representative of our district for so many years, we believe it is important that as a community we recognize the importance of moving away from the use of mascots that perpetuate damaging stereotypes, especially in our educational environments. Pride in our district extends far beyond the identification with the Chippewa mascot, and our legacy as students, staff, alumni, and community endures through our relationships and accomplishments.

Many sports teams have Native American mascots, why do we have to change ours?

In the late 1990s, MAPS worked with local tribal representatives to remove of the Native American images associated with our mascot.  Even though the images have been removed, we now understand that keeping the name, or even using “Chips” as a shortened version, is also offensive to the Native American culture.

We feel it is important that our district is represented positively in our community, and in the communities that we visit when participating in sports and other events, without offense to any living culture.

 

 

 

MORE INFORMATION…..

Little River Band of Ottawa Indians

The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians have made 3 resolutions Condemning the Use of Indian Mascots, Logos and Nicknames.  In 2000, The Tribal Council of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians filed and formalized its opinion about the use of Indian mascots, logos and nicknames by public schools in the State of Michigan and throughout the United States.

Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Resolution

Following this resolution, MAPS worked with local tribal representatives on the removal of the Native American iconography previously associated with our mascot. However, even though the iconography has been removed, retention of the name perpetuates the use of inappropriate and offensive depictions. We feel it is important that our district is represented positively in our community, and in the communities that we visit when participating in sports and other events, without offense to any living culture.

Position of State Agencies

The State Board of Education resolved in 2003 (reaffirmed in 2010), that they support and strongly recommend the elimination of American Indian mascots, nicknames, logos, fight songs, insignias, antics, and team descriptors by all Michigan schools. Furthermore, they promote curricula that is fair, appropriate, and accurate in depicting cultures and histories of all people.

State Board of Education Resolution: Use of American Indian Mascots, Nicknames, and Logos

Michigan Coalition Against Racism in Sports & Media is reaching out to schools across the state to request that they strongly consider transitioning from use of Native American mascot. https://actionnetwork.org/groups/mcarsm

Michigan High School Mascot Retirement Initiatives

In 2019, MHSAA reported that 44 high schools were still using nicknames and logos that depict these stereotypes, more recently there are 27 high schools, and many other middle and elementary schools.

MHSAA List of all Michigan High School Mascots

Below is a cross-section of Michigan schools that have retired culturally inappropriate and discriminatory names/mascots each have been linked to stories of their mascot retirement:

Additional Michigan schools that have retired their mascots:

  • Muskegon
  • Leelenau
  • Flint Central
  • Ottawa Hills
  • Whitter Junior High
  • Flint Northern
  • West Michigan Christian
  • Chippewa Valley
  • Pontiac Central
  • Milan
  • Many Elementary and Middle schools
  • Eastern Michigan University
  • Lake Michigan College

National Sports Teams Retiring Mascots

  • Washington “Redskins” 2020
  • Cleveland “Indians” 2019

NCAA

National College Athletics Association in 1998, sent its first message regarding the eventual eradication of racially insensitive mascots and iconography. Charles Whitcomb, writing on behalf of the NCAA Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee, stated:

“The committee was established to enhance the NCAA commitment to foster racial equality and diversity in collegiate athletics. Thus, we strongly support the elimination of Indian names and mascots as symbols for our member institutions’ sports teams. We also support the elimination of Native American rituals for entertainment purposes.

Why does Central Michigan University still have the Chippewa mascot?

Central Michigan University is located in Mount Pleasant which is within the territory of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe. CMU has worked with the tribe in establishing curriculum for students and their athletic program to learn about and interact with the Chippewa culture. Their relationship to the tribe, which is representative of their region, establishes purpose for their continued use of the mascot. 

 

 

 

Which other Michigan schools have changed their mascot?

Michigan High School Mascot Retirement Initiatives

In 2019, MHSAA reported that 44 high schools were still using nicknames and logos that depict these stereotypes, more recently there are 27 high schools, and many other middle and elementary schools.

MHSAA List of all Michigan High School Mascots

Below is a cross-section of Michigan schools that have retired culturally inappropriate and discriminatory names/mascots each have been linked to stories of their mascot retirement:

Additional Michigan schools that have retired their mascots:

  • Muskegon
  • Leelenau
  • Flint Central
  • Ottawa Hills
  • Whitter Junior High
  • Flint Northern
  • West Michigan Christian 
  • Chippewa Valley
  • Pontiac Central 
  • Milan
  • Many Elementary and Middle schools
  • Eastern Michigan University 
  • Lake Michigan College
How will a new mascot be chosen?

Students will work on a committee that will learn about why schools retire Native American mascots and will use their learning for collecting ideas for a new mascot.  The MAPS Board of Education Student Success Committee will provide support to the students in doing this work.

 

 

 

MORE INFORMATION……

Over the coming weeks we will be working with a committee of board members, staff, students, and alumni, to create a greater understanding of equity in our district and will be presenting a timeline for this work. We will provide updates and opportunities for feedback for our MAPS community along the way.

We ask for understanding, patience, and support as we move through this process. It is our goal to lead a meaningful initiative to establish a new mascot for our district that is respectful and inclusive of all those we represent.

We anticipate the timeline to look something like this:

  • September – Community Forum to be held
  • September – Invite students to apply for the Student Advisory Committee, begin student education efforts
  • October – Students present findings to Board of Ed
  • November – Board consideration of initiative progress
  • Nov-Feb – Student Advisory Committee begins community branding survey/feedback efforts
  • Feb/Mar– New mascot recommendation to Board of Ed to consider for adoption
  • If adopted, March – August – Creation of branded assets
  • August 2023 – New Mascot Introduction
How will the new mascot be paid for?

We understand that changing a mascot can be expensive. Luckily, grant money is available for helping schools to choose a new mascot and create new signs, uniforms, and other such items, that would not have to be paid back.

MORE INFORMATION…..

An audit has been conducted to consider all assets that would require updating for this initiative. As we have seen with many Michigan school districts, this can be a costly process. We have reached out to organizations, such as the Native American Heritage Fund, that are supporting these efforts with grant funding and are anticipating that many of the costs involved will be able to be offset with alternative funding.

Will existing items with the Chippewa logo be removed?

We are retiring the Chippewa mascot, not banning it. Any past awards displayed, class composites, yearbooks, and other items representative of our alumni will remain. Through this initiative, a new mascot will be adopted and a rebranding effort will occur to create a new representation of our district beginning with the 2023/24 school year.

 

 

 

 

WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE ABOUT MASCOT RETIREMENT INITIATIVES?

We have assembled the following resources for researching school mascot retirement initiatives. We will continue to add to these resources as we learn more throughout this process.

 

Michigan Coalition Against Racism in Sports and Media https://actionnetwork.org/groups/mcarsm

Missing the Point: The Real Impact of Native Mascots and Team Names on American Indian and Alaska Native Youth, Center for American Progress (2014) https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/race/reports/2014/07/22/94214/missing-the-point/

Research and Findings on the Use of Native American Imagery As a Mascot, Mariemont City Schools Report for the Board of Education (September 2020), Cincinnati Ohio https://drive.google.com/file/d/1MOEbTbu-I3IB6_sXz24C3-8rVPHaNzIT/view?usp=sharing

Native American mascot laws and regulations—a survey of various state and school board actions is provided on this Wikipedia site (with the caveat that Wikipedia is a crowd-sourced resource ): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_American_mascot_laws_and_regulations

American Indian Sports Team Mascots: Change the Mascot— https://aistm.org

Maine schools retired their last Native American-themed mascot in March 2019.  In May 2019, Maine became the first state to pass a law banning Native American mascots at all public schools.  “How to Talk About Indian-Themed Mascots” provides helpful resources to respond to common arguments made in the debate about mascots. https://www.suitupmaine.org/indian-mascots/

NCAI – Mascot State Activity Tracker

Our People, Our Journey, James McClurken (Michigan State University Press; Illustrated edition March 13, 2009)A landmark history of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, a Michigan tribe that has survived to the present day despite the expansionist and assimilationist policies that nearly robbed it of an identity in the late nineteenth century.

Need more information or have a question we have not answered?

Location: 550 Maple St, Manistee, MI 49660 | Map
Telephone:
231-723-3521
Central Office Hours:
M-F: 8:30am – 4:30pm

Superintendent: Ron Stoneman
Email: rstoneman@manistee.org