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Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Michigan high school finally retires 'Redskins' name after voting to keep it several years ago

Posted By on Tue, Mar 10, 2020 at 4:30 PM

  • Courtesy of Paw Paw High School Facebook

The Paw Paw Redskins are no more.

Following pressure from school district superintendent Rick Reo, the southwestern Michigan high school's board decided to ditch its Native American mascot. It voted 6-1 on Monday to retire the Redskins name by the end of the school year.

Reo said that while the name was originally conceived to "celebrate the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans," times have changed, and it was important to set an example for the school's students.

"There's division across all groups, but the group that I'm most concerned about is the group that this board employs me to be the most concerned about — and that is the students," Reo said during a Monday meeting, according to the Detroit Free Press. "Our kids and their education must come first."

In 2013, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights filed a complaint alleging discrimination by Michigan schools using Native American mascots or logos, and sought to prohibit these schools from receiving federal funding. However, the complaint was dismissed for lack of sufficient evidence that the use of the mascots created a "racially hostile environment."

In 2017, the board voted to keep the name, and later that year, then-Attorney General Bill Schuette weighed in, issuing an opinion saying that though the State Board of Education adopted a resolution in 2003 recommending that schools eliminate use of Native American mascots and logos, the state Superintendent had no legal authority to withhold funds from school districts that used them.

A student committee will choose a new mascot for Paw Paw High School. No word on when the Cleveland Indians will change their name, however.

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