OKEMOS, Mich. — The Okemos Public Schools could soon be looking for a new mascot after a group of students and alumni sent a letter to the school board asking them to rethink the Chieftains name.
In 2011, the district removed all images of Native Americans from logos and sports memorabilia. School board member Vincent Lyon-Callo said he thinks that was a good start for change.
“They got rid of that image which was a good step,” Lyon-Callo said.
The change came after advocacy groups began a call to end culturally inappropriate mascots.
“It’s been an issue that's been sort of on and off the agenda for about decade in the district because there’s been so much national attention to this issue," Lyon-Callo said. "There’s so many agencies and advocacy groups suggesting to do it.”
The logo was replaced with a white 'O', but the Chieftain name stayed for the time being.
“Now, the Superintendent has appointed a committee that’s been meeting since September, I believe, to explore the possibility of changing away from the Chiefs or the Chieftains,” Lyon-Callo said.
Students and alumni wrote a letter to the school board last summer asking them to drop the Chieftain name.
“We have this equity plan district and this was part of the consideration to do that, but acting now was really precipitated by that letter,” Lyon-Callo said.
Now they're moving forward with discussion on whether to change the name or not. Lyon-Callo said he thinks a change is long overdue.
“We should’ve done it a decade ago," he said. "It’s good that we’re considering doing it. Hopefully there will be some action this spring.”
To get input from the community, the district will have two town halls on April 14 and 15. More information will be posted on the district's website https://www.okemosk12.net.
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