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Changes to tribal agreement could mean fewer Native American mascots

Sarah Hulett
Michigan Radio
Complaints about the school's mascot prompted Marshall to change from the Redskins to the Redhawks a decade ago. But changing mascots can be expensive.

Changes are coming to a tribal agreement with the state and Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi that would help schools change their mascots. 

The amendment will put money into a new Michigan Native American Heritage Fund. The fund is run by a board that will send the money to private and public schools that want to, “promote positive relationships with and understanding of the history and role of Michigan’s Indian tribes,” the tribe said in a press release. 

NHBP Tribal Chair Jamie Stuck says there is a cost barrier associated with changing a school’s mascot.

“Right now I think there’s a lot of schools that have negative mascot imagery that know that it’s negative,” he said. “And they know that it needs to be changed but where’s the money going to come from?”

Stuck says the costs can range from scoreboards to logos to school letterhead. All of which can be a deterrent for schools that might want to change. He believes the amendment provides a more proactive solution to offensive mascots than has been done in the past.

“To help schools move in a positive direction we figured that with this amendment we can provide grants that will provide or break down the barriers to those issues and provide a solution to the mascot issue,” he said.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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