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Saugatuck Public Schools discusses changing Indian mascot

Julie Dye mentioned people tell her using the name is an honor, but she disagrees.

SAUGATUCK, Mich. — John Fox painted the "Indian" mascot logo in the Saugatuck High School gym back in 1975. If he was asked today, he wouldn't do it again.

"I think it needs to go," says Fox. "I'm here again to ask the board to seriously consider removing the logo."

The school's American Indian mascot was the major topic on the agenda for Monday's school board meeting. This comes a week after Paw Paw public schools unveiled its new mascot, and the Washington NFL team said it would change its imagery and mascot.

The board also heard from Julie Dye of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, who says a name change would be a chance for people to learn more about Native history.

"We get the comment frequently that we're erasing history," says Dye. "No, we're fact checking history and we're adding what was omitted."

Dye mentioned people tell her using the name is an honor, but she disagrees.

"You're honoring what you created or what somebody created that was supposed to be us," says Dye. "Honor must be accepted by the honoree. It cannot be forced on them."

Superintendent Tim Travis says the district has stopped the use of Indian imagery in recent years and has just used the name. But he's ready to take the next step.

"Until we address the name itself, it always lends itself to what images will show up," says Travis. "How will other fans portray our Indian name for our athletic team?"

The board did not vote on the subject at this meeting. The next meeting is on Aug. 10. 

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