OKEMOS, Mich. (WLNS) – Okemos superintendent John Hood said he supports removing the school’s “chiefs” mascot and logo in a Monday school board meeting.
The final decision falls on the school board, who will decide to keep or remove the iconography in a meeting set for May 24th.
If Okemos does decide to remove the chiefs mascot, the school won’t fully transition into a new mascot until September 2023.
Supporters of the chiefs mascot cite the financial toll changing the mascot will have, both on the school district and on the fans/students who will have to re-buy Okemos gear.
Those who wish to change the mascot cite negative stereotypes and the impact they have on Indigenous students.
This debate comes as several other schools and sports teams have received flak for using Native American iconography in potentially offensive ways.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill two weeks ago banning the use of Indigenous mascots.
An Indigenous-led protest took place in February this year in Kansas City over the Kansas City Chiefs logo and mascot.
This isn’t the first time Okemos has debated their mascot, in 1989 a committee was tasked with looking for a new logo and name, where a majority said the Indigenous iconography should be phased out.
In 2004 a committee convened for a similar reason, where they phased out the use of the chieftain headdress and nickname, but kept the use of “chief.”
In 2011 the school eliminated human imagery and use of Indigenous dress/chants.