Saugatuck school board mulls replacing Indians mascot

SAUGATUCK, Mich. (WOOD) — Saugatuck Public Schools is considering replacing its Indians nickname.

John Fox, the artist who painted a mural of the Indians mascot logo in the high school gym in 1975, is among those calling for the image to be removed. He proposed the idea a decade ago and says he would be willing to cover it up himself.

“I’m considering doing that labor, doing that work with no charge at all and I’m also considering, depending on the vote and the community at large, painting a new logo at no charge,” Fox said in a virtual school board meeting Monday.

Fox said the district should hire a graphics designer to create a new logo once a new mascot is decided.

The Saugatuck school board also listened to a presentation from Julie Dye, a member of the nearby Pokagon Band of Potawatomi. She said leaving the nickname in place is harmful to the entire community.

“The direct effect on native kids is that it lowers your self-esteem, lowers their community worth, lessens their ability to image future accomplishments,” Dye said.

Everyone who addressed the board spoke in favor of coming up with a new name except Joe Cadreau, a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. He supported painting over the mural but says a new nickname is not needed since tribes use the word Indian in their names and in historic treaties.

“I support the use of the block ‘S’ and I want to urge you to keep the Indians name and use it as a teaching (tool). Because that’s threatening our sovereignty that each and every Native American has in this country that’s a registered tribal member and even those that aren’t. We have tribal sovereignty and that is important because that is historical and treaty language,” Cadreau said.

The board did not vote on whether to keep or remove the mural or the Indians name. Board members say they are continuing to look into the issue.

Paw Paw Public Schools recently replaced its Redskins mascot with the Red Wolves after years of debate.