Mascot debate continues at Belding Schools

Posted at 10:30 PM, Oct 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-11 22:31:15-04

BELDING, Mich. -- Should Belding Area Schools keep the Redskins as their mascot?  It's a debate that's been going on in the district for months, and the conversation continued Tuesday during a school meeting.

Native Americans both in and outside the community say the name is derogatory, and something people should be educated about.

"What the term 'Redskin' really refers to is the bounties placed on Native American's heads for the cavalry and the U.S. government to go and scalp them and bring the bounty to them for a reward of upward of $200 in the late 1890s and early 1900s," said Eric Rodriguez, the public relations director for the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe.

Rodriguez was asked by the Belding School Board to come and educate people on where the term "Redskin" originated.   He represents one of the 12 recognized tribes in the state.

"I was here tonight not stating my personal opinion, but stating the facts and why this is an issue," Rodriguez said.

Belding has shied away from promoting the name or logo for years, instead opting for a Belding 'B.'

There has been a community push to either bring the Redskin mascot back or officially pick a new one.  Some community members say the mascot has been around since the 1930s and they hold a special connection to it.

Before the board makes a permanent decision they are getting feedback from parents, even breaking them up into focus groups where they could share their opinions on the subject.

Superintendent Brent Noskey said parents are vocal on both sides, especially those who don't want to see the Redskins mascot go.

"I am a little bit disappointed because a lot of the pro-Redskin folks didn't come out tonight, and it's disappointing because we want to hear from everyone," Noskey said.

The district has one more meeting about the potential mascot change Oct. 17 before their regularly scheduled November board meeting.

District officials are hoping to hear from more groups about the topic, and get some high school students' input.  They plan to make a decision by December.