Three more Michigan schools are changing mascots, with the help of funding from the Native American Heritage Fund.

Three of the 11 projects selected for 2021 will assist schools in transitioning from mascots that the group finds objectionable.

  • Saugatuck Public Schools – $43,022 to rebrand the current mascot from “Indians” to “Trailblazers.”
  • Lansing School District: Vivian Riddle Elementary School – $47,712 to rebrand the current mascot from a bear wearing a Native American headdress to “Rhinos.”
  • Okemos Public Schools – $213,663.50 to rebrand the current mascot “Chiefs” to a new mascot that is culturally responsive.

As more schools in Michigan change mascots, the fund is changing focus more toward educational projects, who benefit from the total $480,000 in 2021 grants.   The board chose 11 projects from a pool of 17 applicants.  Most support community art and projects, curricula updates, and other projects that honor Native American culture and history in the area.

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The other eight 2021 NAHF grants are:

  • East Jordan Public Schools – $17,500 to develop curricula on Indigenous/Anishinaabek culture, history, and language in participating Title VI schools in northern Michigan.
  • Kalamazoo Regional Educational Services Agency (Kalamazoo RESA) – $16,800 to expand the Kalamazoo County Native American Family Meet-Ups program to include families of children 3rd-12th
  • Michigan College Access Network (MCAN)/Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College – $60,000 to increase college completion of students at tribal colleges by placing college completion coaches at Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College, Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College, and Bay Mills Community College for the next three years.
  • Michigan Technological University – $19,056 to develop experiential, place-based local literacy modules that engage educators and communities to know about tribal culture and history.
  • Northport Public Schools – $22,860 to install new signage on municipal land dedicated to Odawa/Ojibwa Native American history in Leelanau County.
  • Rochester Community Schools – $6,100 to educate staff and the community with a Pow Wow demonstration, and foster this learning continuously through book clubs and Twitter chats.
  • Sault Area Public Schools – $26,000 to establish a language program and create signage in English and Ojibwe.
  • Traverse City Area Public Schools – $8,200 to create a new monthly educational series "Anishinaabe Expressive Cultural Series" to increase cultural knowledge and awareness.

The awards will be distributed by mail and shared with the public at a virtual meeting on July 16.

A 2018 grant assisted with the removal and replacement of a stained glass window medallion in Battle Creek’s City Hall.

The NAHF Board is composed of Chairperson Jamie Stuck (NHBP Tribal Council Chairperson); Vice-Chairperson Dorie Rios (NHBP Tribal Council Vice-Chairperson); Secretary Elizabeth Kinnart (Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians Citizen); Treasurer Melissa Kiesewetter (Michigan Dept. of Civil Rights Tribal Liaison/Native American Specialist); and Board Member Kimberly Vargo (Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Vice-Chairperson).

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