A Michigan school district is getting rid of its Chief mascot and arrowhead logo after complaints of cultural appropriation and racism.
The Plymouth-Canton Community Schools Board of Education on Tuesday voted 6-1 to retire Canton High School’s “Chief” mascot and logo despite pushback from the community.
Tensions were heated at the school board meeting when community members spoke during the public comment period with people expressing a desire to change the mascot and those who wished to keep it.
One student, who identified as Native American, supported the change because it was a symbol of “colonialism.”
“I, unfortunately, had to compete under the arrowhead mascot, which I always took to be a symbol of colonialism,” the student said. He went on to say, “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.”
The student added how he “encountered racism and other difficulties” as a student at Salem High School.
“It is incredibly distracting to have this mascot,” he said. “I completely support the student initiative to change this. They have a right to be free from distraction.”
However, another speaker who identified as a “full-blooded Navaho” pushed back on the proposition to retire the logo.
Gabriel Jim, a father of two, said that the logo and mascot were “very honorable and respectful.”
“I don’t agree with the decision to retire the chief and the arrowhead logo,” Jim said. “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.”
One parent, Shannon Balog, spoke about parents losing money from paying for sporting equipment with the logo and mascot embedded in it.
“Canton hockey team is funded by parents,” she said. “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?”
Even after a majority of speakers wanted to keep the logo, the board ultimately decided to retire it.
Board members had been having a discussion about the mascot and logo for a couple of years.
Reportedly, last year, students delivered a presentation to the school board arguing that the arrowhead “logos are disrespectful to Native Americans and can lead to cultural appropriation.”
A committee was established earlier this year to weigh in on the implications of the logo and gather public opinion.
The committee made the recommendation to remove the mascot.
The board wants students to decide what the next logo and mascot will be.
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