LANSING, Mich. — Vivian Riddle Elementary School is getting rid of its Little Reds mascot in favor of something more inclusive and getting almost $50,000 from the Native American Heritage Fund to help with the costs.
“We are now the Riddle Rhinos,” said. Nicole Beard, principal at the west Lansing elementary school.
Beard said the school's former mascot was a poor representation of Native Americans.
“It was Little Reds and it was a bear with and it had the Native American traditional head dress,” she said.
The inspiration for the new mascot came from Jaali, Potter Park’s young Black Rhino, but the final decision to officially turn the school into “the Rhinos" came after a vote.
“We wanted to make sure that students had a voice,” Beard said. “So we had a community vote and there were three choices and the rhinos were the clear winner.”
The smiley and eager little rhino, which is now placed all over the school, will be named Ralphie Riddle, after Ralph Riddle, the husband of Vivian Riddle, a former teacher and community leader and the school's namesake.
The Michigan Native American Heritage Fund gave Riddle $47,000 to pay for the change.
The fund was created in 2016 to help schools, colleges, and local governments change curriculums, mascots, and other images that may be objectifying to Native Americans.
With the new mascot, Beard said she hopes Native American students will feel included and better represented.
“We want to be equitable in all that we do,” Beard said. “We want you to be represented in the way that you should be represented.”