GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Native American Heritage Fund will provide almost $480,000 to six Michigan school communities to change their controversial mascots and host community projects, including two districts in West Michigan, according to a press release.
Hartford Public Schools will receive $132,249.25 to change their mascot from the “Indians” to the “Huskies.” The district first announced this change in October and chose their new mascot in March. The new name was chosen by a student-led committee from a list of submissions.
Saranac Community Schools will receive $139,318.90 to rebrand the current mascot from “Redskins” to “Red Hawks.” The district first announced the change in October and announced the new name just a few weeks ago, on June 9. It was chosen after input from students, staff, parents, alumni and community surveys and approved by the school board, according to a statement from SCS.
The Native American Heritage Fund said in a release that changing what they call “inappropriate mascots” are often costly for schools because it requires them to update their facilities, uniforms and more.
NAHF Chairperson Jamie Stuck, who is also the Tribal Council Chairperson for the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi said that changing mascots is a helpful step to open the door to fund more inclusive programs in the future.
“If we fund the decommissioning of racist mascot imagery now, we will have more money in the future for proactive program and curriculum programming,” Stuck said in a press release.
Under the Tribal-State Gaming Compact, some of the money shared by tribal casinos with the state goes into the Native American Heritage Fund.
Chippewa Hills School District and Lansing School District also received funds to change their mascots. Michigan College Access Network and Western Michigan University’s Native American Affairs Council received grants to fund educational programs about Native American culture, the release said.
The awards will be officially distributed at the NAHF Grand Award ceremony at FireKeepers Casino Hotel on Aug. 19.