LANSING, Mich. — There may be no more Washington Redskins, but there are still Redskins teams in Michigan.
It’s the mascot of Saranac Community Schools in Ionia County. In 2015, the school board voted to keep the name, but Superintendent Jason Smith says they may consider it again in the future.
Clinton, Camden-Frontier and Sandusky High Schools also use the Redskins name.
According to the Michigan High School Athletic Association, mascots are decided locally and the organization has no authority in the matter.
“These aren’t decisions that the MHSAA makes. They’re made in every community, but there’s no better time than the present than to have thoughtful conversations and take into consideration how any nickname or mascot will affect anyone,” said Geoff Kimmerly with MHSAA.
A few years ago, Senator Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City) introduced a bill to have Redskins and other Native American mascots banned in Michigan. While it never made it through the legislature, he says it did inspire some change.
“We didn’t need the legislation ultimately to get those names changed. So the success is there without actually having to pass a bill,” said Sen. Schmidt.
However, not all schools have changed their mascots. Okemos is still known as the Chiefs.
In addition, leaders from the Lansing School District say the Sexton Big Reds isn’t a Native American reference. They say the arrow in the logo is a nod to the school’s heritage.
Central Michigan University has also opted over the years to keep the Chippewa name. In 1989, a CMU advisory committee worked with the Saginaw Chippewa tribe and agreed to keeping the name under certain conditions which include educating students on Native American culture, removing the Native American logo and eliminating Native American drum beats by pep bands.
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