© 2024 Blaze Media LLC. All rights reserved.
High school's 'Chief' mascot to be retired after students argue it represents 'colonialism,' 'cultural appropriation' — but local Native American community disagrees
Image Source: WDIV-TV YouTube video screenshot

High school's 'Chief' mascot to be retired after students argue it represents 'colonialism,' 'cultural appropriation' — but local Native American community disagrees

Michigan school board members voted on Tuesday to cancel a high school's "Chief" mascot and arrowhead logo after students argued the symbols represented "colonialism" and "cultural appropriation." The board's vote disregarded calls from the local Native American community to keep the school's mascot and logo.

In a 6-1 vote, the Plymouth-Canton school board elected to retire Canton High School's mascot and logo following a contentious board meeting, during which most community members argued to keep the symbols.

A former student, who identified as Native American, claimed the mascot needed to be changed because it symbolized "colonialism," Fox News Digital reported.

"I, unfortunately, had to compete under the arrowhead mascot, which I always took to be a symbol of colonialism," the former student stated. "There were very few other non-white folks in the entire community, and it was incredibly horrifying to have to compete under that every day."

"It is incredibly distracting to have this mascot," he continued. "I completely support the student initiative to change this. They have a right to be free from distraction."

In 2021, a group of students reportedly gave a presentation explaining why the mascot was an example of "cultural appropriation" and therefore needed to be retired. A July 2020 petition to change the school's logo, an effort started by the students, stated that "eight tribes in the United Tribes in Michigan explicitly condemn the 'Chiefs' mascot as it dishonors their tribes."

However, during Tuesday's school board meeting, several members of the local Native American community argued that the logo should remain.

Gabriel Jim, who described himself as a "full-blooded Navajo," claimed that the mascot and logo were "very honorable."

"I don't agree with the decision to retire the chief and the arrowhead logo," Jim stated. "As a native person, I find them very honorable and respectful. It's not like the Cleveland Indians' Chief Wahoo caricature or anything like that."

Alexis Fernimos, who also identified as Native American, said, "Please don't take the arrowhead down. I am proud of my ancestry."

A community survey revealed that over half of the respondents did not support the change.

The only board member to vote in opposition to changing the logo and mascot, Sheryl Picard, asked the panel why they were not considering the opinions of the local Native American community.

"Are we being culturally responsive to American Indians in our district that have replied to the survey and attended board meetings?" Picard asked.

One parent expressed concern about rebranding costs for updating students' sporting equipment with a new mascot and logo.

"Canton hockey team is funded by parents," the parent stated. "The cost for them to replace their uniforms and gear will be a big cost to these families."

"Where's all the money coming from for rebranding? How much do you anticipate this costing?" she asked.

In a statement to the Detroit News, the board of education said, "We appreciate the work of the Canton High School Mascot Committee and we are grateful for their time and work on this important effort. Their work has been deliberate, thoughtful and transparent."

"Our board policy requires the district to change sports mascots if the mascot and name are based on several protected classes, including race, ethnicity and ancestry. Because of that, we are considering retiring the Canton High School Chief mascot and arrowhead logo and allowing for a new mascot to be chosen by the student body," the board added.

Board votes to change high school mascot in Plymouthyoutu.be

Like Blaze News? Bypass the censors, sign up for our newsletters, and get stories like this direct to your inbox. Sign up here!

Want to leave a tip?

We answer to you. Help keep our content free of advertisers and big tech censorship by leaving a tip today.
Want to join the conversation?
Already a subscriber?
Candace Hathaway

Candace Hathaway

Candace Hathaway is a staff writer for Blaze News.
@candace_phx →