How about Marquette ‘Big Red?’
There are three high schools in the Upper Peninsula that have proudly sported American Indian logos and-or nicknames for decades:
The Marquette Senior High School Redmen, the Gladstone Braves and the Newberry Indians.
Some might even consider the Escanaba Eskymos as Native Americans, with some connotations the same in this instance.
The Michigan Department of Civil Rights has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights in an effort to prohibit the use of American Indian mascots and imagery in state schools.
The complaint says 35 K-12 schools in the state are responsible for “alleged discrimination” when it comes to the American Indian names/imagery.
It also states current research shows the use of such mascots causes “actual harm” to American Indian students by lowering their self-esteem.
I won’t get into the debate as to whether the use of such mascots/imagery is right or wrong. That’s something for people who have the administrative power to decide the merits of this complaint.
Besides, the MSHS use of the Redmen name – according to the late Marquette County historian Fred Rydholm – apparently had nothing to do with American Indians.
Reportedly, in the 1920s, then-Marquette Graveraet High School principal Mr. Whitman adorned many parts of the school in red and white to honor his college alma mater, Harvard University.
Thus, students at the school were nicknamed “Redmen.”
It has been reported the use of a Native American chief in full headdress as a Graveraet logo on its basketball court came from a janitor who had seen it on road signs posted throughout Gogebic County in the 1930s.
For years, the logo was painted on the MSHS gym floor, at other locations inside the school and on some MSHS merchandise.
The logo at center court has been replaced with the letters “MSHS,” but the American Indian chief imagery can still be seen in other locations at the school or on its merchandise.
Replacing all of it, if the complaint is upheld and the Michigan schools involved are told to remove the American Indian mascots/imagery, would be costly.
That being said, coming up with a new nickname for MSHS – if “Redmen” and “Redettes” is not allowed, as well as the chief’s logo – is not easy, especially if one wants to keep the present school colors of red and white.
A few come to mind, however.
What about the MSHS “Big Red” or just plain “Reds”? Or “Red Wave”? How about “Redhawks”? Or “Redbirds”? Or maybe “Superior Crimson”?
OK, that last one is a stretch.
Coming up with a logo that befits the new nickname might be even harder than deciding on the new moniker in the first place.
Marquette, Newberry and Gladstone may all have to make other arrangements in the complaint is upheld.
It won’t be easy, or cheap.
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org