Native American Heritage fund supports mascot changes

Group will help schools change mascots
Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 6:15 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The Okemos school district will be taking another look at the idea of getting rid of the Chieftains nickname. If the district does so, it may be getting outside money to help pay for it.

The Native American Heritage fund is offering grants for schools to change their mascot and logos if they’re deemed offensive to native Americans or portray an inaccurate representation of the culture.

“A lot of the times I think school districts know that there is an issue, and they need to make changes but then it’s a matter of what type of resources are out here to make the changes and this fund actually really helps out,” said Chairperson of Native American Heritage Fund, Jamie Stuck.

The fund provides a $500,000 grant for K-12 schools, colleges, universities and even local governments.

“Knowing there is a fund that helps out does help ease the tensions within the communities and moving forward to healing and moving forward to changing,” Stuck said.

Stuck told News 10 the priority is helping people understand the history of Native American culture and heritage.

“While mascot imagery is very important we also take a look at how our history our culture our traditions and our values are taught in the state of Michigan as well,” Stuck said.

The superintendent of Okemos schools says the fund will be a factor as the district weighs its decision on the chieftains nickname.

“If the board chooses to adopt this recommendation than we are not faced with a tough choice of then do we have to choose between textbooks and instructional programming or making a change that we think is in the best interests of our student population,” Okemos Superintendent, John Hood said.

The application for the grant is due by June 11.

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