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'Not erasing our past': Okemos schools will get rid of Chieftain name

Okemos high school
Posted at 10:28 PM, May 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-25 14:14:35-04

OKEMOS, Mich. — After months of consideration, the Okemos School Board voted unanimously to change the Chieftain name.

The Okemos School Board voted unanimously to change the 'Chieftain' name

The district removed all Native American images from its memorabilia in 2011, but the name stayed.

After the vote Monday, the name is expected to be phased out by September of 2023.

A mascot committee made up of students, alumni, school staff and Native Americans along with Superintendent John Hood submitted formal recommendations to change the name prior to Monday night's meeting.

New name recommendations have not yet been released.

Hood said this decision isn't wiping away the school's past but hopes this will create unity for the district.

Hood said this decision isn't wiping away the school's past but hopes this will create unity for the district.

“We can continue our lens of honoring Native Americans in a way their voices say they want to be honored, educating our community and increasing their understanding of the why of the journey over time, not placing blame on the past, not erasing our past, but increasing our understanding of the journey so we can make that a teachable moment now and into the future of our students,” Hood said.

The decision will come with a financial impact. The exact cost has not yet been determined, but estimates show costs to be around $400,000.

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Mikayla Temple

Mikayla Temple

1:39 PM, Jan 05, 2021

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