2013-02-13 / Front Page

Sandusky’s Redskins logo comes under fire

The Redskins logo for Sandusky Community Schools. The Redskins logo for Sandusky Community Schools. LANSING — Sandusky Community Schools is among 35 public school districts in Michigan targeted by the Michigan Department of Civil Rights for using Native American imagery.

The MDCR has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, asking the federal agency to issue an order prohibiting the continued use American Indian mascots, names, nicknames, slogans, chants and/or imagery. MDCR’s complaint asserts that new research establishes that use of American Indian imagery negatively impacts student learning, creating an unequal learning environment in violation of Article VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Sandusky is named in the complaint for the Redskins logo. But school Superintendent Mike Carmean says the district does not discriminate.

“Sandusky Community Schools does not discriminate against any student on the basis of race, color, or national origin," said Carmean.

"We are very respectful of all cultures, including Native American culture. At this time, we have been advised by our attorney to wait for the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights to act on the complaint before we respond to it.”

Other area schools and imagery listed in the complaint include: Capac Chiefs, Kinde-North Huron Warriors and Port Huron Big Reds.

“A growing and unrebutted body of evidence now establishes that the use of American Indian imagery reinforces stereotypes in a way that negatively impacts the potential for achievement by students with American Indian ancestry,” the MDRC argues in the complaint.

“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.”

MDCR asserts that research now establishes that actual harm occurs as a result of the use of American Indian imagery, thus rendering the subjective debate over intent and offensiveness moot. The filing highlights a number of studies which show decreased achievement, self-esteem and self-identity among American Indian students as well as increased stereotyping of all minority groups.

The MDCR complaint asks OCR to order that:

A. The use of American Indian mascots, names, terms, graphics and/or other imagery will not be permitted in primary or secondary educational institutions that receive federal funds.

B. 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.

C. 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.

D. 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.

MDCR’s complaint addresses only primary and secondary schools, so colleges and universities would not be impacted by any action OCR might take in response. The MDCR complaint identifies 35 public school districts in Michigan that were using American Indian imagery as of the time of the complaint’s filing.

Return to top

Copyright © 2009-2018 Sanilac County News, All Rights Reserved

Special Sections

Click here for digital edition
2013-02-13 digital edition